Electricity and natural gas provider NorthWestern Corp., parent company of Blue Dot Services Inc., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Sept. 15. While Blue Dot was not included in the Chapter 11 filing, NorthWestern said it is in discussions with interested parties to sell its principal nonutility businesses, which includes Blue Dot.

To prepare for its sale, Blue Dot announced that it completed the sale of six business locations during the third quarter of 2003 and reduced its debt from $20 million to less than $10 million. Robert Kennedy, Blue Dot's chief financial officer, said that the locations were sold in six individual sales, not to any roll-over or consolidator companies.

Blue Dot President and CEO Dan Newell said the company is continuing to work with NorthWestern on the sale of its remaining business locations and expects proceeds to be used to further reduce its debt and improve its liquidity.

NorthWestern had been trying for the past several months to work out a restructuring plan without filing for bankruptcy but could not gain the necessary shareholder support to issue additional stock shares to help raise the cash needed to pay down its debt.

Blue Dot was ranked No. 58 in PM's Pipe Trades Giants List.