Business lawyer team. Working together of lawyer in the meeting.

An Ontario court has granted approval for the process to explore the possible sale of troubled asset manager Bridging Finance Inc. (BFI) and its funds.

Following a hearing last week, Chief Justice Morawetz of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice granted a motion brought by BFI’s receiver, PricewaterhouseCoopers Inc. (PwC), which sets out plans to potentially sell the firm.

PwC was appointed as the firm’s receiver following an application from the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC), which has been investigating possible undisclosed conflicts of interest at the firm and its funds. The OSC hasn’t brought any formal allegations in the case.

The proposed sale and investment solicitation process (SISP) envisions a two-stage campaign with interested firms getting five weeks to initially consider making bids and submitting non-binding offers for some or all of the firm and its funds. Binding offers would be due about 10 weeks after that.

Court approval for any transaction would be heard by Dec. 31.

The SISP also sets out the terms for participating in the process, and how PwC will treat potential offers.

On Tuesday, PwC formally launched the BFI sale process, setting a deadline for submitting non-binding expressions of interest of 5 p.m. on Sept. 13.

In late July, PwC said it had “received preliminary indications of interest from a broad range of potentially interested” buyers who will be able to participate in the sales process provided they meet its requirements.

In the meantime, OSC staff asked to extend the temporary cease trade order against the BFI funds, which was first granted on April 30.

The OSC granted the extension on Tuesday, extending the trading suspension to Dec. 31.

In its motion, the regulator confirmed that its investigation is continuing and said the extension “is necessary to protect investors and is in the public interest.”

PwC consented to the cease-trade order’s extension.