New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing -- Fusion Connect Inc.

June 3, 2019

We previously wrote about Fusion Connect Inc. ($FSNN), providers of “Unified Communications-as-a-Service” and “Infrastructure-as-a-Service” in “⛈A Dark "Cloud" on the Horizon⛈.” Therein we marveled at how special Fusion must be…to fail SO SPECTACULARLY in today’s cloud here, cloud there, cloud everywhere, everyone’s gaga for cloud environment. Cloud is SO captivating that it wasn’t until the company filed a piss poor 8-K back in April that a B. Riley FBR ($RILY) analyst FINALLY had an epiphany and declared that the company’s stock ought to be downgraded from “buy” to “neutral” (huh?!?) with a price target of $0.75 — down from $9.75/share. This is despite the fact that the stock hadn’t traded anywhere in the vicinity of $9.75/share in ages — nowhere even close, actually — but whatevs. Clearly, his head was in the cloud(s). This, ladies and gentlemen, demonstrates, in a nutshell, the utter worthlessness of equity analyst reports.🖕

But this isn’t a story about shoddy analyst research. That would be wholly unoriginal. This is a story about synergies and burdensome debt. Because, like, that’s so super original that you won’t read of it again until…well…you scroll below to the next bit of content about FTD!! 🙄

Boiled down to its simplest form, this company is the product of an acquisition strategy (and reverse merger) gone wrong. Like, in a majormajor way. Per the company:

The Company pursued the Birch Merger with a vision of leveraging its existing processes and structures to create synergies between Fusion’s and Birch’s joined customer bases, combine network infrastructure assets to improve operational efficiencies, and ultimately drive material growth in Fusion’s and Birch’s combined annual revenue. In connection with the Birch Merger and MegaPath Merger, the Company incurred $680 million in secured debt(emphasis added)

That reverse merger closed at the end of Q2, 2018. Yet…

Unfortunately, due to underperformance compared to business projections, the Company found itself with limited liquidity and at risk of default under its debt documents by early 2019.

Wait, what? Limited liquidity and risk of default by “early 2019”?!? Who the f*ck diligenced and underwrote this transaction?!? This sitch is so bad, that the company literally didn’t have enough liquidity to make a recent $6.7mm amort payment under the first lien credit agreement and a $300k interest payment on its unsecured debt. This is the company’s pre-petition capital structure:

  • $20mm super senior L+10% June 2019 debt

  • $43.3mm Tranche A Term Loans L+6.0% May 2022 debt

  • $490.9mm Tranche B Term Loans L+8.5% May 2023 debt

  • $39mm Revolving Loans L+6.0% May 2022 debt

  • $85mm Second Lien L+10.5% November 2023 debt

  • $13.3mm Unsecured Debt

Back in April we summed up the situation as follows:

The company’s recent SEC reports constitute a perfect storm of bad news. On April 2, the company filed a Form 8-K indicating that (i) a recently-acquired company had material accounting deficiencies that will affect its financials and, therefore, certain of the company’s prior filings “can no longer be relied upon,” (ii) it won’t be able to file its 10-K, (iii) it failed to make a $7mm interest payment on its Tranche A and Tranche B term loan borrowings due on April 1, 2019, and (iv) due to the accounting errors, the company has tripped various covenants under the first lien credit agreement — including its fixed charge coverage ratio and its total net leverage ratio.

Again, who diligenced the reverse merger?!? 😡

So here we are. In bankruptcy. To what end?

The company is seeking a dual-path restructuring that is all the rage these days: everyone loves to promote optionality that will potentially result in greater value to the estate. In the first instance, the company proposes, as a form of “stalking horse,” a “reorganization transaction” backed by a restructuring support agreement with certain of its lenders. This transaction would slash $300mm of the company’s $665mm of debt and result in the company’s first lien lenders owning the company. That is, unless a buyer emerges out of the woodwork with a compelling purchase price. To promote this possibility, the company is filing a bid procedures motion with the bankruptcy court with the hope of an eventual auction taking place. If a buyer surfaces with mucho dinero, the company will toggle over to a sale pursuant to a plan of reorganization. This would obviously be the optimal scenario. Absent that (and maybe even with that), we’ve got a jaw-dropping example of value destruction. “Fail fast,” many in tech say. These cloud bros listened!! Nothing like deep-sixing yourself with a misguided poorly-diligenced acquisition. Bravo!!

The company has secured a commitment for a fully-backstopped $59.5mm DIP that subsumes the $20mm in super senior pre-petition bridge financing recently provided by the first lien lenders. Is this DIP commitment good for general unsecured creditors? Is any of this generally good for unsecured creditors? Probably not.

Major creditors include a who’s who of telecommunications companies, including AT&T Inc. ($T) (first Donald Trump and now THIS…rough week for AT&T), Verizon Communications Inc. ($VZ)XO Communications (owned by VZ), Frontier Communications Corp. ($FTR)(which has its own issues to contend with as it sells assets to sure up its own balance sheet), CenturyLink Inc. ($CTL)Level 3 Communications ($LVLT)Time Warner Inc. ($TWX), and….wait for it…bankrupt Windstream Communications ($WINMQ). Because the hits just keep on coming for Windstream….

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Jurisdiction: S.D. of New York (Judge Bernstein)

  • Capital Structure: see above.

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP (Gary Holtzer, Sunny Singh, Natasha Hwangpo)

    • Board of Directors: Matthew Rosen, Holcombe Green Jr., Marvin Rosen, Holcombe Green III, Michael Del Guidice, Lewis Dickey Jr., Rafe de la Gueronniere, Neil Goldman)

    • Financial Advisor: FTI Consulting Inc. (Mark Katzenstein)

    • Investment Banker: PJT Partners (Brent Herlihy, John Singh)

    • Claims Agent: Prime Clerk LLC (*click on the link above for free docket access)

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Ad Hoc First Lien Lender Group

      • Legal: Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP (Damian Schaible, Adam Shpeen)

      • Financial Advisor: Greenhill & Co. Inc.

    • DIP Lender: Credit Suisse Loan Funding LLC

    • DIP Agent, Prepetition Super Senior Agent & Prepetition First Lien Agent: Wilmington Trust NA

      • Legal: Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer (Michael Messersmith, Sarah Grylll, Alan Glantz)

    • Prepetition Second Lien Successor Agent: GLAS America LLC & GLAS USA LLC

    • Ad Hoc Group of Tranche A Term Loan/Revolving Lenders

      • Legal: Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP (Sandeep Qusba, Soogy Lee, Edward Linden)

    • Second Lien Lenders

      • Legal: Proskauer Rose LLP (Charles Dale, Jon English)

    • Large Unsecured Creditor: AT&T

      • Legal: Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP (David Rosenzweig, Francisco Vazquez)

Updated 6/4/19 at 5:42am


New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing -- FTD Companies Inc.

FTD Companies Inc.

June 3, 2019

After the issuance of Illinois-based FTD Companies Inc’s ($FTD) most recent 10-K, everyone and their mother — well, other than maybe United Parcel Service Inc. ($UPS)* — knew that FTD was headed towards a bankruptcy court near you. It arrived.

The company is a floral and gifting company operating primarily within the United States and Canada; it (and its affiliated debtors) specializes in providing floral, specialty foods, gift and related products to consumers (direct-to-consumer), retail florists and other retail locations. The company basks in the glory of its “iconic” “Mercury Man” logo, which it alleges is “one of the most recognized logos in the world.” Seriously? Hyperbole much?🙄

Maybe…not? This, for any sort of history nerd, is actually pretty interesting:

Originally called "Florists' Telegraph Delivery Association," FTD was the world's first flowers-by-wire service and has been a leader in the floral and gifting industry for over a century. The Debtors' story began in 1910 when thirteen American retail florists agreed to exchange orders for out-of-town deliveries by telegraph, thereby eliminating prohibitively lengthy transit times that made sending flowers to friends and relatives in distant locations almost impossible. The idea revolutionized the industry, and soon independent florists all over America were telegraphing and telephoning orders to each other using the FTD network. In 1914, FTD adopted the Roman messenger god as its logo and, in 1929, copyrighted the Mercury Man® logo as the official trademark for FTD.

This company is only slightly younger than Sears (1893). And so this bankruptcy filing is a bigger deal than meets the eye. This company revolutionized flower delivery, regularly innovating and expanding its reach over its decades in business. In 1923, FTD expanded to Britain. In 1946, FTD, FTD Britain and a European clearinghouse established what is now known as Interflora to sell flowers-by-wire around the world. In 1979, the company launched an electronic system to link florists together; and in 1994, it launched its first e-commerce site. In other words, this company always tackled the “innovator’s dilemma” head on, pivoting regularly over time to seize opportunities whenever and wherever they emerged. For quite some time, this was, at least for some time, an impressive operation — seemingly always one step ahead of disruption. WE ALL LIKELY TAKE FOR GRANTED JUST HOW EASY IT IS TO DELIVER FLOWERS THESE DAYS. These guys helped make it all possible. If ever a debtor was in need of a hype man, this company is it. A read of the bankruptcy papers barely gives you a sense for the history and legacy of this company.

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Interestingly, for much of its history, the company was actually a not-for-profit. That’s right: a not-for-profit. Per the company:

For the majority of its existence, FTD operated as a not-for-profit organization run by its member florists. With the florists as its core, the Debtors' legacy business provided a powerful mix of a "local," authentic, and bespoke product, broad geographic range, and a commitment to exacting standards of quality and service. Moreover, the Debtors historically were devoted to creating an optimal product for their florist network, including through investment in innovation and technology and marketing the FTD brand and the floral industry overall. As a result, florists sought out FTD membership, and the FTD brand had (and still has) significant caché in the industry.

Amazing!

So what the hell happened? Well, the blood-sucking capitalists arrived knocking. Now-defunct Perry Capital acquired FTD in 1994 (the same year that the company established its web presence) and converted the company into a for-profit corporation. In 2000, the company IPO’d and in 2008, United Online (now owned by B.Riley Financial $RILY), merged with the company in a $800mm transaction consummated just prior to the financial crisis. Then, in 2013, FTD spun off from United Online, once again becoming a publicly-traded company on the NASDAQ exchange.

Throughout the company’s evolution, it pursued a strategy of dominating the floral market via strategic acquisitions (and, in the process, drew antitrust scrutiny a handful of times). In 2006, it acquired Interflora and in 2014, it acquired Provide Commerce LLC (ProFlowers) in a $430mm cash and equity transaction. The purchase was predicated upon uniting FTD’s B2B “Florist” business (read: FTD-to-retail-florists) and B2C (read: FTD-direct-to-consumer) businesses with Provide Commerce’s B2C model in such a way that would (i) offer customers greater choice, (ii) provide the company with expanded geographic and demographic reach, and (iii) promote cross-selling possibilities. Per the company:

…FTD anticipated that the Provide Acquisition would generate significant cost synergies through efficiencies in combined operations.

Ah, synergies. Is there anything more romantic than the thought of ever-elusive synergies?

The company incurred $120-200mm of debt to finance the transaction.** You know where this is headed. If not, well, please allow the company to spell it out for you:

Though the Provide Business Units have increased the Debtors' revenue (the Provide Business Units currently contribute more than 50% of the Debtors' total revenue) … certain shifts in the market, technological changes, and improvident strategic outcomes in connection with the implementation of the Provide Acquisition combined to (a) frustrate expectations regarding the earnings of the combined entity and (b) impair the Debtors' ability to refinance near-term maturities, which has driven the Debtors' need to commence these chapter 11 cases.

That sure escalated quickly. 😬

Let’s take a moment here, however, to appreciate what the company attempted to do. In the spirit of its long-time legacy of getting out ahead of disruption, the company identified a competitor that was quickly disrupting the floral business. Per the company:

ProFlowers had entered the floral industry as a disruptor by reimagining floral delivery to consumers. Unlike the Debtors' "asset-light" B2B business model, ProFlowers took ownership of the floral inventory and fulfilled orders directly through a company-operated supply chain. By sourcing finished bouquets directly from farms, limiting product selection, pricing strategically into the consumer demand curve, and leveraging analytically-driven direct response marketing to generate large volumes at peak periods (i.e., Valentine's Day and Mother's Day), ProFlowers appealed to a broad market of consumers who wanted an efficient order process coupled with lower cost purchases.

There’s more:

In addition to these potential opportunities, FTD also viewed the Provide Acquisition as the means to strategically position itself for success within a changing industry. At the time of the Provide Acquisition, the disruptive impact of ProFlowers was perceived as a threat to traditional business models within the floral industry (and to the Florist Member Network specifically). FTD was concerned that, if it failed to adapt and embrace shifting industry paradigms, competitors would take advantage and acquire ProFlowers to FTD's detriment. Accordingly, FTD effected the Provide Acquisition.

We clown on companies all of the time for failing to heed the signs of disruption. But, that’s not actually the case here. This company was, seemingly, on its game. Where it failed, however, was with the post-acquisition integration. It’s awfully hard to realize synergies when businesses effectively run as independent entities. Per the company:

In particular, a number of key post-acquisition targets, such as (a) floral brand alignment, (b) necessary technological investments in the combined business (e.g., the consolidation of technology/ecommerce platforms), and (c) the integration of marketing and business teams, have lagged. As a result, both the Provide Commerce and the Debtors' legacy brands suffered from internal friction and suboptimal structures within the Debtors' enterprise.

And while the company failed to integrate Provide Commerce, the industry never stopped evolving. Competitors didn’t just take the acquisition as a sign that they ought to fold up their tents and relinquish the flower industry to FTD. F*ck no. To the contrary, this is where…wait for it…AMAZON INC. ($AMZN) ENTERS THE PICTURE:***

While the Debtors struggled to unify their businesses and implement the Provide Acquisition, the floral industry – and consumer expectations – continued to evolve. Following the example set by ProFlowers, other companies began to deliver farm-sourced fresh bouquets directly to customers, increasing competition in the B2C space. In addition, the expanding influence of e-commerce platforms like Amazon transformed customer expectations, particularly with respect to ease of experience and the fast, free delivery of goods. Given the perishable and delicate nature of the product, delivery and service fees were standard in the floral industry. As e-commerce companies trained consumers to expect free or nominal cost delivery, floral service fees became anathema to many customers.

Well, Amazon AND venture capital-backed floral startups (i.e., The Bouqs Company - $43mm of VC funding) that could absorb losses in the name of customer acquisition.

The company also blames a significant number of trends that we’ve covered here in PETITION for its demise. Like, for instance, increased shipping and online marketing costs (long Facebook Inc. ($FB)), low barriers to entry for other DTC businesses (long Shopify Inc. ($SHOP)), and “the growing presence of grocers and mass merchants providing low-cost floral products and chocolate-dipped strawberries during peak holidays” (long Target Inc., ($T)Walmart Inc. ($WMT)Trader Joe’s, etc.).

Collectively, market pressures contributed to declining sales and decreased order volumes, impairing the B2C businesses' ability to leverage and capitalize on scale.

In other words, (a) chocolate-dipped strawberries have no f*cking moat whatsoever and (b) as with all other things retail, this is a perfect storm story that is best explained by factors beyond just the f*cking “Amazon Effect” (the most obvious one being: a ton of debt).

Consequently, the company has been mired in a year-plus-long process of triage; it tried to cap-ex its way out of problems, but that didn’t work; it brought in new leadership but…well…you see how that turned out; it attempted to “reinvent” its user experience to combat its techie VC-backed upstart competitors with no results; and, it sought to optimize efficiencies. None of this could stem the tide of underperformance, bolster liquidity, and, ultimately, prevent debt covenant issues. The company currently has $149.4mm of secured indebtedness on its balance sheet (comprised of a $57.4mm term loan and $92mm under a revolving credit facility). The company reports approximately $72.4mm of unsecured debt owed to providers of goods and services.

In a strange fit of irony, it was the most romantic holiday of the calendar year that spelled doom for FTD. The company’s Valentine’s Day 2018 was pathetic: aggregate consumer order volume declined 5% and, even when people did use FTD, the average order size fell by 3%.

Valentine’s Day 2019 was no better. The company materially underperformed projections again. In addition to constraining liquidity further, this had the added effect of cooling any interest prospective buyers might have in the company pre-bankruptcy.

So, where are we now?

The crown jewel of the company is the company’s B2B retail business. This segment generated $150.3mm in revenue and $42.7mm in operating income in 2018. Operating margin is approximately 30%. The B2C business (including FTD.com), on the other hand, lost $4.6mm in ‘18 (on $727.9mm of revenue) and had -1% operating margin in 2018. (PETITION Note: while these numbers are in many respects abysmal, its fun to think that if they belonged, sans debt, to one of those VC-backed upstarts, they’s probably be WAY GOOD ENOUGH for the company to IPO in today’s environment…flowers-as-a-service anyone?). Clearly, there is nothing “iconic” about this brand outside of the floral network/community.

Anywho, the company is selling the company for parts. On Mary 31, the company effectuated a sale of Interflora for $59.5mm. On June 2, the company entered into an asset purchase agreement with Nexus Capital Management LP for the purchase of certain FTD assets and the ProFlowers business for $95mm. It also entered into non-binding letters of intent to sell other assets, including Shari’s Berries to Farids & Co. LLC (which is owned by the founder of Edible Arrangements LLC, the gnarliest company we’ve ever encountered when it comes to gifts.).

All of which is to say, R.I.P. FTD. We’ll be sure to send flowers. From Bouqs.

*Why are we picking on UPS? It is listed as the largest unsecured creditor to the tune of $23.2mm. Surely they’ll be clamoring for “critical vendor” status given the core function they provide to FTD’s business.

**At one point the papers say, $120mm, at another $200mm.

***We didn’t actually realize this but, yes, of course you can buy fresh flowers on Amazon.

  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware (Judge Silverstein)

  • Capital Structure:

    • Secured Indebtedness:

      • $92mm Revolver

      • $57.4mm Term Loan

    • Unsecured Indebtedness

      • $72.4mm of Various Trade Claims

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Jones Day (Heather Lennox, Brad Erens, Thomas Wilson, Caitlin Cahow) & (local) Richards Layton & Finger PA (Daniel DeFranceshi, Paul Heath, Brett Haywood, Megan Kinney)

    • Financial Advisor/CRO: AlixPartners LLP (Alan Holtz, Scott Tandberg, Jason Muscovich, Job Chan, Bassaam Fawad, J.C. Chang)

    • Investment Banker: Moelis & Company & Piper Jaffray Companies

    • Claims Agent: Omni Management Group (*click on the link above for free docket access)

  • Other Parties in Interest:


⛽️New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - White Star Petroleum Holdings LLC⛽️

White Star Petroleum Holdings LLC

May 28, 2019

Hey look. It’s Tuesday. It must be time for another oil and gas bankruptcy filing! White Star Petroleum Holdings LLC is the latest oil and gas company to make an oh-so-2015-like appearance in bankruptcy court. No need to knock your skull or check your watch: yes, it is very much 2019.*

The company, formerly known as American Energy — Woodford LLC, was originally formed in 2013 by American Energy Partners LP, a shared services platform founded by Aubrey McClendon, the eccentric wildcatter who plowed his life (literally) and billions of dollars of cash into the exploration and production business. In 2014, The Energy & Minerals Group LP (“EMG”) and other investors cut an equity check and, in this case, it didn’t take Mr. McClendon as long as usual to fail: by 2016, the company and its businesses were separated from American Energy to become White Star, a standalone company independent of the American Energy platform. Of course, in typical McClendon fashion, the company sprayed and prayed for a while prior to the transition, gobbling up Mississippian Lime and Woodford Shale assets along the way.

Which is not to say that, post separation/transition, the company just sat on its hands. In 2016 and thereafter, the company extended its shopping spree. First it acquired additional Mississippian Lime and Woodford Shale assets from Devon Production Company LP for approximately $200mm (funded in part by equity from ESG and borrowings under the company’s revolving credit facility). Then it acquired Lighthouse Oil and Gas LP (which was 49.4% minority owned by EMG, but whatevs) through a combination of equity and more borrowings under the credit facility. Finally, the company expanded its portfolio into the Sooner Trend Anadarko Canadian Kingfisher area with borrowings under its credit facility. If you’ve been paying attention, yes, E&P is a capital intensive business: there’s a reason why so many of these companies are levered up the wazoo.

What did that capital buy? “As of December 31, 2018, the Debtors had proved reserves of approximately 84.4 million barrels of oil equivalent (“boe”) across approximately 315,000 net leasehold acres….” But, to be sure, this is a company that focuses its exploration and production on “unconventional” resource plays. Said another way, it is a horizontal driller and hydraulic fracker: its assets tend to produce in high volume for two or so years and then tail off considerably requiring capital to acquire and develop a steady stream of new wells. Of course, an investment in new wells only works if the commodity environment permits it to. With oil and gas trading where it has been trading, well…suffice it to say…the environment is proving unaccommodating. Per the company:

“Despite controlling significant leasehold and mineral acreage in the MidContinent region, due to the declines in commodity prices in the fourth quarter of 2018 and the Debtors’ financial condition, the Debtors ceased drilling new wells in April 2019 and have not resumed such activities as of the Petition Date.”

Consequently, the company suffered a net loss of $114mm in 2018 after losing $14mm in 2017; it has negative working capital of $61mm as of 12/31/18 and $70mm as of the petition date. This sucker is burning cash.

The company’s capital structure looks as follows:

Source: First Day Declaration

Source: First Day Declaration

The current capital structure is the result of clear triage undertaken by the company in the midst of a severe commodity downturn. WE CANNOT EMPHASIZE THIS ENOUGH: nearly every oil and gas exploration and production company under the sun was forced into some sort of balance sheet transaction around the 2015 time period — many in-court, others out-of-court in an attempt to stave off bankruptcy. Here, notably, the $10.3mm of unsecured notes represent the remnants of a distressed exchange that took place in 2015 whereby approximately $340mm of unsecured notes (with a 9% cash-pay interest coupon) were exchanged for approximately $348mm 12% second lien notes. Thereafter, in late 2015 and extending through August 2016, the company entered into a series of cash and equity transactions that took out the second lien notes in a cash-draining attempt to strengthen the balance sheet and extend liquidity (by way of reduced interest expense)**. The company was effectively playing whack-a-mole.

Alas, the company is in bankruptcy. That happens when your primary sources of capital are large equity checks, borrowings under a credit facility, and proceeds from producing oil and gas properties in a rough price environment. Of course, not all oil and gas properties are created equal either. This company happens to frack in challenging territory. Per the company:

Independent oil and gas companies, such as the Debtors, with Mississippian Lime-weighted assets in the Mid-Continent region have been particularly hard-hit by volatile market conditions in recent years and the majority of the Debtors’ peers in the region have filed for chapter 11 since 2015. This is in large part due to operational challenges unique to the region, including complex geological characteristics. One of these challenges is the Mississippian Lime’s relatively high ratio of “saltwater” to produced oil and gas. During the normal production of oil and gas, saltwater mixed with hydrocarbon byproducts comes to the surface, and its separation and disposal increases production costs. Low production volumes and higher than expected production costs, together with allegations that increased saltwater injection by the operators in the area caused increased seismic activity, resulted in many operators reducing activity and many capital providers discounting asset values in the region.

Recognizing the dire nature of the situation, the company’s RBL lenders effectuated a debilitating borrowing base redetermination that created a deficiency payment that the company simply couldn’t manage. This triggered a “potential” Event of Default under the facility. Thereafter, the company entered into an amendment with the RBL lenders with the hope of securing some capital to refinance the RBL. Spoiler alert: the company couldn’t get it done. The amendment also dictated that the company attempt to secure a buyer so as to repay the debt. To chapter 11 filing is meant to aid that marketing and sale process.*** To aid this process, the company has a commitment from MUFG Union Bank NA, its prepetition RBL Agent, for a DIP credit facility of $28.5mm as well as the use of cash collateral.

*We’d be remiss if we didn’t highlight that in the “AlixPartners 14th Annual Turnaround & Restructuring Experts Survey” released in February 2019, oil and gas was listed as the second most likely sector to face distress, with 36% of respondents predicting it would be a hot and heavy sector (up from 31% the in 2018).

**The company also refinanced its RBL, sold midstream and non-strategic properties and adjusted midstream pipeline commitments.

***Some trigger happy creditors beat the company to the punch here. On May 24, five “purported” creditors filed an involuntary bankruptcy petition against the company in the Western District of Oklahoma. Considering Baker Hughes Oilfield Operations Inc. ($GE) is among the top 5 largest creditors, we can’t say we’re that surprised.

  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware (Judge )

  • Capital Structure: see above.

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Sullivan & Cromwell LLP (Andrew Dietderich, Brian Glueckstein, Alexa Kranzley) & (local) Morris Nichols Arsht & Tunnel LLP (Derek Abbott, Gregory Werkheiser, Tamara Mann, Joseph Barsalona)

    • Independent Director: Patrick Bartels Jr.

    • Financial Advisor: Alvarez & Marsal LLC (Ed Mosley)

    • Investment Banker: Guggenheim Securities LLC

    • Claims Agent: KCC (*click on the link above for free docket access)

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • RBL Agent: MUFG Union Bank NA

      • Legal: Winston & Strawn LLP (Justin Rawlins)

    • TL Agent: EnLink Oklahoma Processing LP

    • Indenture Trustee: Wilmington Trust NA

New Chapter 11 Filing - Elk Petroleum Inc.

Elk Petroleum Inc.

May 22, 2019

On May 22nd 2019, Elk Petroleum Aneth, LLC and Resolute Aneth, LLC voluntarily filed petitions for Chapter 11 bankruptcy with a restructuring support agreement with their noteholders. The debtors already have a plan of reorganization on file. Per the disclosure statement, the debtors claim that the cause of its financial distress and eventual bankruptcy was due to:

Debtors’ ambitious endeavors to acquire multiple oil and gas assets outpaced the Debtors’ balance sheet, and in certain respects, performance of the operated and non-operated assets failed to meet initial expectations.

The debtors tried to alleviate uncertainty of future cash flows through hedging oil prices. Oil prices went up, however, not down, and the hedging was, with the benefit of 50/50 hindsight, clearly a bad mistake. Here is what they have to say about that:

Debtors were unable to capture the financial benefits of the improving commodity price environment due to their hedge obligations under the BP ISDA.

Whoops. The Debtors are to receive $10mm in Debtor-in-Possession financing by certain supporting noteholders. All in all, the cause of distress continues to align with the reason for other bankruptcy filings in O&G land we’ve touched on. High fixed costs, lower than expected revenues and impatient lenders.

  • Jurisdiction: District of Delaware (Judge Laurie Silverstein)

  • Pre-Petition Capital Structure:

    • Revolving Credit Facility: $14.5mm FO Revolver (AB Elk Holdings LLC)

    • First Lien Credit Facility: $114.0mm TL (HPS Investment Partners)

    • Unsecured Debt: $54.9mm TL (LIM Asia Special Situations Master Fund Limited, AB Elk Holdings, ACR Multi-Strategy Quality Return (MQR) Fund, A Series of Investment Management Series Trust II (“ACR”), Fulcrum Energy Capital Fund II, LLC)

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Proposed Debtors & Debtors-in-Possession - Norton Rose Fulbright LLP (Gregory M. Wilkes, Kristian W. Gluck, Scott P. Drake, John N. Schwartz & Shivani Shah) Womble Bond Dickinson LLP (Matthew P. Ward & Morgan L. Patterson)

    • Financial Advisor: Ankura Consulting Group, LLC (Scott M. Pinsonnault), Opportune LLP

    • Investment Banker: Stephens Inc.

    • Claims Agent: Stretto (*click on the link above for free docket access)

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • HPS Investment Partners: Provider of First Lien Term Loan

    • Certain unsecured loan holders:

      • AB Co-Invest Elk Holdings LLC

    • Certain secured debt holders:

      • AB Elk Holdings LLC

      • Riverstone Credit Partners - Direct, L.P.

      • Riverstone Credit Partners II - Direct LP

      • Riverstone Strategic Credit Partners S, L.P.

      • Riverstone Strategic Credit Partners A-2 AIV, L.P.

😷New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - Aegerion Pharmaceuticals Inc.😷

Aegerion Pharmaceuticals Inc.

May 20, 2019

We were right and we were wrong. Back in November 2018, in “😬Biopharma is in Pain😬 ,” we snidely wrote, “Do Pills Count as ‘Healthcare’? Short Biopharma” riffing on the common trope that healthcare was a hot spot for restructuring activity.* No, we argued: the activity is really in publicly-traded biopharma companies with little to no sales, too much debt (and usually busted convertible notes) and attractive intellectual property. We went on to predict that Synergy Pharmaceuticals Inc. ($SGYP) and Aegerion Pharmaceuticals Inc. (a subsidiary of Novelion Therapeutics Inc. ($NVLN)) would both file for bankruptcy. Ding ding!!! We were right.** The former filed back in December and, now, the latter is also in bankruptcy court. Of course, with respect to the latter, we also wrote, “[c]ome February — if not sooner — it may be in bankruptcy court.” But let’s not split hairs.***

The company manufactures two approved therapies, JUXTAPID and MYALEPT, that treat rare diseases. On Sunday, we’ll discuss the future of these therapies and what the company seeks to achieve with this restructuring.

*To be fair, the healthcare space has, indeed, picked up in activity since then.

**For what it’s worth, we also predicted that Orchids Paper Products Company ($TIS) would be in bankruptcy soon, writing “This company doesn’t produce enough toilet paper to wipe away this sh*tfest. See you in bankruptcy court.” Three for three: this is precisely why — wait for the shameless plug — you should become a PETITION Member today.

***Maturity of the bridge loan was initially February 15, 2019 but the debtors had a right to extend, which they did.

  • Jurisdiction: Southern District of New York (Judge )

  • Capital Structure: $36.1mm 8% PIK ‘19 secured Novelion Intercompany Loan, $73.8mm Bridge Loan (Highbridge Capital Management LLC and Athyrium Capital Management LP), $304mm 2% unsecured convertible notes (The Bank of New York Mellon Trust Company NA)

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP (Paul Shalhoub, Andrew Mordkoff)

    • Financial Advisor/CRO: AlixPartners LLP (John Castellano)

    • Investment Banker: Moelis & Co. (Barak Klein)

    • Claims Agent: Prime Clerk LLC (*click on the link above for free docket access)

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • DIP Agent: Cantor Fitzgerald Securities

    • Ad Hoc Group of Convertible Noteholders

      • Legal: Latham & Watkins LLP & King & Spalding LLP

      • Financial Advisor: Ducera Partners LLC

    • Novelion

      • Legal: Goodwin Proctor LLP & Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP

      • Financial Advisor: Evercore

🛌New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy & CCAA Filing - Hollander Sleep Products LLC🛌

Hollander Sleep Products LLC

May 19, 2019

Florida-based private equity owned Hollander Sleep Products LLC and six affiliates (including one Canadian affiliate) have filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in the Southern District of New York. The debtors are “the largest bed pillow and mattress pad manufacturer in North America.” The debtors produce pillows, comforters and mattress pads for the likes of Ralph Lauren, Simmons, Beautyrest, Nautica and Calvin Klein; their products are available at major retailers like Costco Wholesale Corporation ($COST), Kohl’s Corporation ($KSS), Walmart Inc. ($WMT) and Target Inc. ($TGT) and with the Marriott International Inc. ($MAR) chain of hotels; they have a main showroom in New York City, nine manufacturing facilities throughout the US and Canada, and a sourcing, product development and quality control office in China. Speaking of China, 60% of the debtors’ top 10 creditors are Chinese companies.

Why bankruptcy? Interestingly, the debtors colorfully ask, “How Did We Get Here?” And the answer appears to be a combination of (a) “[r]ecent substantial price increases on materials” like fiber, down and feathers, (b) acquisition integration costs, (c) too much competition in a low margin space, (d) employee wage increases “as a result of natural wage inflation and the tight job market” and (e) too much leverage. The debtors burned through $20mm in the last year on material cost increases alone (it opted NOT to pass price increases on to the consumer), straining liquidity to the point that, at the time of filing, the company had less than $1mm of cash on hand.

With the filing, the debtors seek to restructure approximately $166.5mm of term debt, effectuating a debt-for-equity swap in the new reorganized entity (plus participation in a $30mm exit facility). 100% of the debtors’ term lenders support the plan. As does lender and equity sponsor, Sentinel Capital Partners LLC. That doesn’t necessarily mean, however, that they truly want to own the post-reorg company. Indeed, the debtors have indicated that while they march towards plan confirmation (which they say will be in four months), they will also entertain the possibility of a sale of the company to a third-party. These dual-track chapter 11 cases are all the rage these days, see, e.g., Shopko.

If approved by the bankruptcy court, the bankruptcy will be funded by a $118mm DIP credit facility which will infuse the debtors with $28mm in incremental new money and roll-up the debtors’ prepetition asset-backed first priority credit facility.

The debtors note that “the sleep industry as a whole is both healthy and growing. Market trends favor healthy lifestyle sectors, and the basic bedding segment is generally recession resilient.” We have no quibble with either comment. The company believes that by, among other things, (i) delevering its balance sheet, (ii) gaining access to new capital, (iii) engaging in selective price increases, (iv) implementing material efficiencies, (v) streamlining manufacturing, and (vi) building out their e-commerce channel, it will have a more sustainable path forward. Whether that path will be taken at the direction of their lenders or a strategic buyer remains to be seen.

  • Jurisdiction: S.D. of New York (Judge Wiles)

  • Capital Structure: $125mm ABL ($43mm funded), $166.5mm term loan

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Kirkland & Ellis LLP (Joshua Sussberg, Christopher Greco, Joseph Graham, Andrew McGaan, Laura Krucks)

    • Board of Directors: Eric Bommer, Michael Fabian, Steve Cumbow, Chris Baker

    • Disinterested Director: Matthew Kahn

      • Legal: Proskauer Rose LLP

    • Financial Advisor: Carl Marks Advisory Group LLC (Mark Pfefferle)

    • Investment Banker: Houlihan Lokey Capital Inc. (Saul Burian)

    • Claims Agent: Omni Management Group (*click on the link above for free docket access)

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Prepetition and ($90mm) DIP ABL Agent: Wells Fargo Bank NA

      • Legal: Goldberg Kohn Ltd. (Randall Klein, Prisca Kim) & (local) Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP (Laura Metzger, Peter Amend)

    • ($28mm) DIP Term Loan Agent:

5/2/19, #2

⚡️New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - Empire Generating Co LLC⚡️

Empire Generating Co LLC

May 19, 2019

We love when companies that have been circling around the bankruptcy bowl finally get flushed into bankruptcy court. Empire Generating Company is a name that has been kicking around distressed circles for some time now: The Wall Street Journal wrote about it a year ago, back in May 2018. Alas, it now sits within the Southern District of New York. It is the latest in a line of power producers to file for bankruptcy in recent years.

The company owns and operates a (now) dual-fuel power plant in Rensselaer New York; as a merchant power plant, it sells electricity in the wholesale market that ultimately helps power New York’s electrical grid. Very soon, it will likewise be able to generate revenue in New England. In fiscal year 2017, the company generated $91.8mm of revenue and $16.77 of EBITDA. EBITDA decreased to $11.05mm in 2018. The company also has a meaningful amount of debt. As of the petition date, its outstanding owed amounts under its credit facility total $353.4mm. Its $20mm revolver matured in March 2019.

The company cites some interesting causes for its filing. First, it gives an economics 101 lesson, saying that coal and nuclear facilities in New York haven’t been retired quickly enough to limit electricity supply and put upward pressure on prices. Second, it blames progressives (Cuomo!!): New York’s Clean Energy Standard requires that 50% of NY’s electricity come from renewables by 2030, creating yet another supply/demand imbalance that has placed “downward pressure on the price for energy generated by other sources.” Third, unlike retailers who blame bad weather for under performance all of the time, this company actually has a viable excuse: the abnormally cold winter of 2017/2018 increased natural gas prices, compressing the company’s margins. At the time, the company wasn’t yet “dual-fuel” and, therefore, relied exclusively on natural gas whereas competitors could toggle to more economical fuel oil instead. This confluence of factors ultimately led the company to default under its loan docs.

The company has since been in a state of perpetual forbearance with an ad hoc group of pre-petition lenders. It was on the verge of a prepackaged solution to its balance sheet but time ticked away and the company’s pesky lenders traded out of their respective positions. Per the company:

Once the debt trades settled, approximately 55% of the Credit Facility was held by the Consenting Lenders (Black Diamond and MJX), and approximately 34% of the Credit Facility was held by funds managed by Ares Capital (“Ares”).

For the uninitiated, debtors need 2/3 of the amount of a particular tranche of debt to approve a deal for a plan of reorganization to be confirmed by the bankruptcy court. As you can see from the percentages above, Ares Capital and the “Consenting Lenders” (Black Diamond Capital Management LLC & MJX Asset Management LLC) had “blocking positions,” eliminating the possibility of surpassing the required threshold. Months of negotiations ensued and, apparently, Ares and Black Diamond simply couldn’t get along. Uh, yeah, bros: Black Diamond is kinda known for not getting along. Just sayin.

In lieu of an agreement with those parties, the company has secured, pursuant to a restructuring support agreement, a commitment by Black Diamond Capital Management LLC & MJX Asset Management LLC to credit bid — subject to higher and better offers — their debt in exchange for a 100% interest in the reorganized company. The company has, in turn, rejected a proposal from Ares Capital that would confer $37.8mm in cash and 89.75% equity of an acquisition vehicle as consideration for the company’s assets (which it values at a total of $369mm). Why? It concluded that the offer was neither higher nor better than the credit bid; it also had concerns about valuation, approval and feasibility (feasibility!!!!!). Otherwise, the company be like, “PEACE, B*TCHES, WE DON’T WANT NO PART OF THIS INTERCREDITOR DISPUTE.”

And an intercreditor dispute there is! Ares objected right away to the company’s proposed cash collateral, among other things, saying that Black Diamond is steering the company like a meek little sheep. The objection is too lengthy to recant here but, suffice it to say, it looks like we can expect an old school private equity battle over the course of the case. Judge Drain more or less shot down Ares at the hearing, questioning, even, whether they had standing to object; he then went on to amend the proposed cash collateral order.

Absent a settlement between the funds, this will not be the last fight in the case. Pop the popcorn.

  • Jurisdiction: (Judge Drain)

  • Capital Structure: $20mm RCF, $430mm Term B loan, $30mm Term C loan

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Steinhilber Swanson LLP (Michael Richman) & Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP (Peter Partee Sr., Robert Rich, Michael Legge)

    • Financial Advisor: RPA Advisors (Chip Cummins)

    • Investment Banker:

    • Claims Agent: Omni Management Group (*click on the link above for free docket access)

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Secured Lenders: Black Diamond Capital Management LLC & MJX Asset Management LLC

      • Legal: Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP (Christine Okike, Albert Hogan III, Carl Tullson)

    • Secured Lender: Ares Capital LP

      • Legal: Kirkland & Ellis LLP (James Sprayragen, Brian Schartz, Anup Sathy, Stephen Hackney, Alexandra Schwarzman)

    • Secured Lender: Starwood

      • Legal: Vinson & Elkins LLP (Steven Abramowitz)

    • Ad Hoc Group

      • Legal: Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP

    • Agent: Ankura Trust Company

      • Legal: Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP (Darren Klein)

⛽️New Chapter 22 Filing - Hilltop Energy LLC⛽️

Hilltop Energy LLC

May 16, 2019

Hilltop Energy LLC, a Dallas-based E&P company with assets in Texas, has filed for bankruptcy in the District of Delaware, its second bankruptcy in four years. The company also filed its wholly-owned subsidiary, Hilltop Asset LLC (together, the “Debtors”).

The company’s predecessor, Cubic Energy Inc., filed for bankruptcy in late 2015, confirmed a prepackaged plan of reorganization in February 2016 and never emerged from bankruptcy (due to an ongoing adversary proceeding involving the chapter 11 debtors’ CEO and prior operator). Nevertheless, pursuant to the confirmed plan, secured noteholders swapped their notes for membership interests in the reorganized Cubic Energy and 14% first priority senior secured takeback paper due 2021. This is how these chapter 22 Debtors came to be owned by Anchorage Capital Group LLC and Corbin Opportunity Fund LP. General unsecured creditors and equity otherwise got wiped out.

This is the company’s capital structure:

  • $5mm Superpriority Notes + $30mm 14% First Priority Senior Secured Notes

  • $$18.5mm Superpriority PIK Notes + First Priority PIK Notes

Why is the company in bankruptcy? Let’s break this down into its component parts:

The Company has been cash flow negative every year since its formation following the chapter 11 cases of Cubic and its affiliates, as the revenue generated by producing wells is not sufficient to cover operating expenses and "workover" expenses, which is maintenance capex to keep the wells flowing.

Ugh. Here we go again. Flashback to the finding in this Delaware order from February 2016:

“The valuation analysis contained in the Disclosure Statement (x) is reasonable, persuasive, credible, and accurate as of the date such analysis or evidence was prepared, presented, or proffered, (y) utilizes reasonable and appropriate methodologies and assumptions and (z) has not been controverted by other evidence.”

Source: Cubic Energy Disclosure Statement

Source: Cubic Energy Disclosure Statement

Ok, sure. The court finding may have been right — “as of the date.” But the assumptions proved to be dramatically askew. Take, for instance, the workover expense line-item. The company indicates an aggregate $600k hit there. What does the company have to say about this now?

Although production declines are expected in the oil and gas industry, the Debtors have faced several unanticipated challenges since emerging from the Cubic Chapter 11 Cases. Since emergence, over 20% of the Debtors’ producing gas wells have stopped producing due to downhole operational and/or technical issues. During this same time period, the Debtors also invested in production uplift projects—including an estimated $4 million on workover and/or recompletion projects for three wells—but the efforts to increase production from those wells were unsuccessful. The effects of these production problems on the Debtors’ revenue have been compounded by the weak natural gas market over the past few years.

That’s quite a miss. But it’s not the only one. Significantly, the company also notes:

The Debtors’ gross production has declined from approximately 10.5 million cubic feet per day ("mmcfd"), in March 2016 to roughly 5.0 mmcfd as of the date hereof. (emphasis added)

That is what it is but it begs the question: out of whose a$$ did the company pull the assumptions behind the company’s chapter 11 projections? Per the Disclosure Statement:

Daily Production of natural gas is forecast based upon anticipated January 2016 daily production of 15,500 mcf per day and calculated on a 1% month-over-month decline curve on existing drilled and producing wells.

So, uh, we’re not math experts, but a 1% decline month-over-month doesn’t get you to 10.5 mcf per day A MERE TWO MONTHS LATER. Which begs the question: were the projections actually accurate and credible “as of the date”? This certainly seems to indicate otherwise.

Consequently, the Debtors saw an impending maturity and were like, “oh sh*t”:

Although the Debtors have been able to service their debt obligations (primarily by paying interest in the form of additional notes), over time, the yield of the Debtors' producing oil and gas wells has been and may continue to be in constant decline.

This is top notch spin. Yeah, sure, we suppose issuing PIK debt is a form of debt “service” but c’mon. Really??

Consequently, the Debtors anticipate that they will generate less revenue and cash flow and, ultimately, be unable to satisfy their debt obligations before or at maturity.

Which is in 2021. So, here we are again: cue up the CHAPTER 22!!

The prepackaged plan will give 100% of the membership interests in the reorganized debtors and $1.47mm of cash to its senior secured noteholder, eliminating the $53mm of debt. The Debtors’ prepetition operator, Rivershore, will get 55% of the equity in the Hilltop Asset.

And we’re all left to wonder whether this is just a chapter 33 waiting in the wings. According to the new projections, that’s entirely up to Rivershore’s willingness to make an equity contribution in 2021:

Source: Chapter 22 Disclosure Statement

Source: Chapter 22 Disclosure Statement

  • Jurisdiction: D of Delaware (Judge Sontchi)

  • Capital Structure: $5mm superpriority senior secured notes, $30mm first priority senior secured notes, PIK notes (Wilmington Trust Company NA).

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Cole Schotz PC (Norman Pernick, J. Kate Stickles, Katherine Monica Devanney)

    • Claims Agent: Stretto (*click on the link above for free docket access)

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Senior Secured Noteholder: J.P. Morgan Securities LLC and Lender: Chase Lincoln First Commercial Corporation

      • Legal: Landis Rath & Cobb LLP (Adam Landis, Richard Cobb, Holly Smith)

    • Company Operator: Rivershore Operating LLC

      • Legal: Gray Reed & McGraw LLP (Jason Brookner, Ryan Sears)


⛽️New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - Edgemarc Energy Holdings LLC⛽️

Edgemarc Energy Holdings LLC

May 15, 2019

Pennsylvania-based Edgemarc Energy Holdings LLC and its eight affiliated debtor affiliates are the latest in a string of oil and gas related bankruptcy filings. Don’t let $73/barrel brent crude and $63/barrel West Texas Intermediate prices full you: this is one of many oil and gas filings on the near term horizon.

Edgemarc is a natural gas E&P company focused on the Appalachian Basin in Ohio and Pennsylvania; it and its affiliates control approximately 45k net acres and have drilled and developed 60 producing wells. Now, everyone knows that, right now, the Permian Basin in West Texas is the shizz and, therefore, hearing about the Appalachian Basin may put some of you on edge. But, here, there was an extraordinary externality that really helped push the company into bankruptcy, other more macro factors notwithstanding.

In September 2018, a pipeline and gathering system under construction by a third-party (ETC Northeast Pipeline LLC) exploded. This pipeline was meant to be the gathering and processing avenue for the debtors’ natural gas. Imagine spending a ton of time milking a farm full of cows only to have the production facility designed for processing and transporting the milk explode right as you were about to bring your product to market. Kinda hard to make money in that scenario, right? The same applies to drilling for natural gas: its hard to generate revenue when you can’t process, transport and sell it. And, unfortunately, repair hasn’t been easy: what was supposed to be a “within weeks” project now looks poised to push well into 2020.

According to the debtors, a subsequent dispute with ETC prevented the debtors from flowing their gas through alternative pipelines. Consequently, the debtors “had no other means of selling gas from the affected wells” and opted to “shut in” their Pennsylvania wells and pause all remaining Pennsylvania operations — a hit to 33% of the company’s production activity. Compounding matters, the debtors and ETC are now embroiled in litigation. 😬

Suffice it to say that any company that suddenly loses the ability to sell 33% of its product will struggle. Per the company:

The Debtors’ inability to sell gas from their Pennsylvania properties had a substantial negative impact on their liquidity and ability to satisfy their funded debt, contractual and other payment obligations.

Ya think?!?!? The debtors have approximately $77mm of funded debt; they also has fixed transportation services agreements pursuant to which they agreed to fixed amounts of transportation capacity with various counterparties that exposes the debtors to financial liability regardless of whether they actually transport nat gas. This is so critical, in fact, that the debtors have already filed motions seeking to reject transportation services agreements with Rover Pipeline LLC, Rockies Express Pipeline LLC, and Texas Gas Transmission LLC. Combined, those three entities constitute 3 of the top 4 creditors of the estate, to the tune of over $6mm. These obligations — along with a downward redetermination of the borrowing base under the debtors’ revolving credit facility — severely constrained the debtors’ ability to operate. The debtors have, therefore, filed for chapter 11 with the hope of finding a buyer; they do not have a stalking horse purchaser lined up (though they do have a commitment for a $107.79mm DIP from their prepetition lenders, of which $30mm is new money). The company generated consolidated net revenue of $116.9mm in fiscal 2018.

Significantly, the company is seeking to reject a “marketing service agreement” and “operational agency agreement” with BP Energy Company ($BP), pursuant to which BP agreed to purchase and receive 100% of the debtors’ nat gas capacity. We gather (see what we did there?) that it’s hard to perform under those agreements when you can’t transport your product: accordingly, BP is listed as the debtors’ largest unsecured creditor at ~$41mm. BP’s rights to setoff and/or recoupment (PETITION Note: Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP just happened to write about these two remedies this week here) will be a major facet of this case: if BP is able to exercise remedies, the debtors ability to operate post-restructuring will be threatened. Per the company:

Docket #17, Rejection Motion.

Docket #17, Rejection Motion.

The privately-held company is owned primarily by affiliates of Goldman Sachs and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension. Absent “holdup value,” we can’t imagine they’ll get any return on their investment given the circumstances.

  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware (Judge Shannon)

  • Capital Structure:

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP (Darren Klein, Lara Samet Buchwald, Aryeh Falk, Jonah Peppiatt) & (local) Landis Rath & Cobb (Adam Landis, Kerri Mumford, Kimberly Brown, Holly Smith)

    • Directors: Patrick J. Bartels Jr., Scott Lebovitz, Sebastien Gagnon, Baird Whitehead, Zvi Orvitz, Romeo Leemrijse, Verlyn Holt, Jack Golden, George Dotson, Callum Streeter, Alan Shepard

    • Financial Advisor: Opportune LLC and Dacarba LLC

    • Investment Banker: Evercore Partners

    • Claims Agent: Prime Clerk LLC (*click on the link above for free docket access)

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Prepetition & DIP Agent: Keybank NA

      • Legal: Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP (Timothy Davidson, Joseph Rovira) & (local) Connolly Gallagher LLP (Jeffrey Wisler)

    • Equityholders: Goldman Sachs & Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board

      • Legal: Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz (Richard Mason, Emil Kleinhaus, Michael Cassel) & (local) Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP (Steven Kortanek, Patrick Jackson, Joseph Argentina Jr.)

    • ETC

      • Legal: Akerman LLP (John MItchell, David Parham, Yelena Archiyan) & (local) Pachulski Stang Ziehl & Jones LLP (Laura Davis Jones, TImothy Cairns)

🚁New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - Bristow Group Inc.🚁

Bristow Group Inc.

May 11, 2019

Nothing like being late to the party. Following in the footsteps of fellow helicopter transportation companies Erickson Inc., CHC Group, Waypoint Leasing* and PHI Inc., Bristow Group Inc. ($BRS) and its eight affiliated debtors are the latest in the space to find their way into bankruptcy court. The company enters bankruptcy with a restructuring support agreement and a $75mm DIP financing commitment with and from its senior secured noteholders.

While each of the aforementioned companies is in the helicopter transportation space, they don’t all do exactly the same business. PHI, for instance, has a fairly large — and some might say, attractive — medical services business. Bristow, on the other hand, provides industrial aviation and charter services primarily to offshore energy companies in Europe, Africa, the Americas and the Asian Pacific; it also provides search and rescue services for governmental agencies, in addition to the oil and gas industry. Like the other companies, though: it is not immune to (a) the oil and gas downturn and (b) an over-levered balance sheet.

At the time of this writing, the debtors’ chapter 11 filing wasn’t complete and so details are scant. What we do know, however, is that the company does have a restructuring support agreement executed with “the overwhelming majority” of senior secured noteholders and a $75mm DIP commitment.

*Waypoint Leasing is listed as the 14th largest creditor, owed nearly $104k. Sheesh. These businesses can’t catch a break.

  • Jurisdiction: S.D. of Texas (Judge Jones)

  • Capital Structure:

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Baker Botts LLP (James Prince, Omar Alaniz, Ian Roberts, Kevin Chiu, Emanuel Grillo, Chris Newcomb)

    • Financial Advisor: Alvarez & Marsal LLC

    • Investment Banker: Houlihan Lokey Capital Inc.

    • Claims Agent: Prime Clerk LLC (*click on the link above for free docket access)

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • ABL Facility Agent: Barclays Bank PLC

    • 2019 Term Loan Agent: Ankura Trust Company LLC

    • Indenture Trustee for the 8.75% ‘23 Senior Secured Notes: U.S. Bank NA

    • Indenture Trustee for the 6.25% ‘22 Senior Notes and 4.5% ‘23 Convertible Senior Notes: Wilmington Trust NA

    • Ad Hoc Group of Secured Notes and Term Lenders (Blackrock Financial Management Inc., DW Partners LP, Highbridge Capital Management LLC, Oak Hill Advisors LP, Whitebox Advisors LLC)

      • Legal: Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP (Damian Schaible, Natasha Tsiouris) & (local) Haynes and Boone LLP (Charles Beckham, Kelli Norfleet, Martha Wyrick)

    • Ad Hoc Group fo Unsecured Noteholders

      • Legal: Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP

New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - Triangle Petroleum Corporation

Triangle Petroleum Corporation

May 8, 2019

If it walks like a chapter 22 and quacks like a chapter 22…it…may…notactually…be a chapter 22??

Triangle Petroleum Corporation (“TPC”) filed a prepackaged plan of reorganization with the District of Delaware to consummate a balance sheet restructuring. TPC is an independent energy holding company with a focus on the Williston Basin of North Dakota; its assets include a joint venture interest in Caliber Midstream Holdings LP, a midstream services company, leases of commercial and multi-unit residential buildings in North Dakota, and net operating losses. On the debt side of the balance sheet, the company had a $120mm 5.0% convertible promissory note issued to NGP Triangle Holdings, LLC (“NGP”).

So, what’s up with that convertible note? Wholly-owned direct or indirect subsidiaries of TPC — including Triangle USA Petroleum Corporation — filed for bankruptcy back in June 2016 to address their capital structure and, in the course of confirming a plan of reorganization, wiped out their stock. That stock, naturally, was an asset of TPC and, consequently, the New York Stock Exchange delisted TPC, constituting a “Fundamental Change,” under the note and triggering a requirement that TPC repurchase the convertible note for $154mm. TPC didn’t do so. Upon failing to do so, TPC triggered an event of default. Subsequently, J.P. Morgan Securities LLC (“JPMS”) purchased the note from NGP.

Thereafter, as part of discussions about a forbearance, JPMorgan Chase Bank NA provided the company with a term loan and the company and JPMS amended and restated the convertible note, granting JPMS a second lien in the process. JPMS, however, ultimately concluded that forbearing to nowhere wasn’t exactly a great strategy and so the chapter 11 filing will leave the term loan unimpaired, swap JPMS’ second lien secured note for 100% of TPC’s equity, ride through (what is a de minimis amount of) unsecured claims and wipe out equity, which had been trading over the counter. As of the petition date, the company had $2mm outstanding under the term loan and $167mm outstanding under the newly secured note.

Given that JPMS is the only voting party, this is a pretty easy plan to effectuate. Suffice it to say, JPMS voted yes to the prepackaged plan which means, going forward, it will own the interests in Caliber, Bakken Real Estate and, significantly, the valuable net operating losses.

  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware (Judge Walrath)

  • Capital Structure: see above.

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison LLP (Kelley Cornish, Alexander Woolverton) & (local) Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor LLP (Pauline Morgan, Andrew Magaziner, Shane Reil)

    • Board of Directors: Gus Halas, James Shein, Randal Matkaluk

    • Financial Advisor: Development Specialists Inc. (Mark Iammartino)

    • Claims Agent: Epiq Corporate Restructuring LLC (*click on the link above for free docket access)

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Prepetition Lender: JPMorgan Chase Bank NA & J.P. Morgan Securities LLC

      • Legal: Duane Morris LLP (Lawrence Kotlar, Joel Walker)

New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - Hospital Acquisition LLC

Hospital Acquisition LLC

May 6 & 7, 2019

Texas-based Hospital Acquisition LLC and dozens of other affiliated companies operating in the acute care hospital, behavioral health and out-patient would care space have filed for bankruptcy in the District of Delaware.* The debtors operate 17 facilities in 9 states for a total of 865 beds; their revenue “derives from the provision of patient services and is received through Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements and payments from private payors.

Technically, this is a chapter 22. In 2012, the debtors’ predecessor reeled from the effects of Hurricane Katrina and reduced reimbursement rates and filed for bankruptcy. The case ended in a sale of substantially all assets to the debtors.

So, why is the company in bankruptcy again? Well, to begin with, re-read the final sentence of the first paragraph. That’s why. Per the company:

…internal and external factors have lead the Debtors to an unmanageable level of debt service obligations and an untenable liquidity position. In 2015, Medicare’s establishment of patient criteria to qualify as an LTAC-compliant patient facility led to significant reimbursement rate declines over the course of 2015 and 2016 as changes were implemented. Average reimbursement rates for site neutral patients, representing approximately 57% of 2016 cases, is estimated to drop from $23,000 to $9,000 across the portfolio. When rates declined sharply, the Debtors were unable to adjust. Further, the number of patients that now qualify by Medicare to have services provided in an LTAC setting has declined substantially, resulting in a significant oversupply of LTAC beds in the market.

To offset these uncontrollable trends, the company undertook efforts to convert a new business plan focused around, among other things, closing marginally performing hospitals and diversifying the business into post-acute care “to compete in the evolving value-based health care environment.” To help effectuate this plan, the debtors re-financed its then-existing revolver, entered into its $15mm “priming” term loan, and amended and extended its then-existing term loan facility. After this transaction, the company had total consolidated long-term debt obligations totaling approximately $185mm.

So, more debt + revised business plan + evolving macro healthcare environment = ?? A revenue shortfall, it turns out. Which put the debtors in a precarious position vis-a-vis the covenants baked into the debtors’ debt docs. Whoops. Gotta hate when that happens.

The debtors then engaged Houlihan Lokey to explore strategic alternatives and engaged their lenders. At the time of filing, however, the debtors do not have a stalking horse agreement in place; they do hope, however, to have one in place by mid-July.

*There are also certain non-debtor home health owners and operators in the corporate family that are not, at this time, chapter 11 debtors.

  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware (Judge Shannon)

  • Capital Structure: $23.9mm RCF, $9.4mm LOCs, $15mm “Priming Term Loan” ($7.7mm funded), $136.8mm TL

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP (Scott Alberino, Kevin Eide, Sarah Link Schultz) & (local) Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor LLP (M. Blake Cleary, Jaime Luton Chapman, Joseph Mulvihill, Betsy Feldman)

    • Financial Advisor: Houlihan Lokey Inc. (Geoffrey Coutts)

    • Investment Banker: BRG Capital Advisors LLC

    • Claims Agent: Prime Clerk LLP (*click on the link above for free docket access)

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Equityholders: Monarch Master Funding Ltd., Twin Haven Special Opportunities Fund IV LP, Blue Mountain Credit Alternatives Master Fund LP, Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner & Smith Inc., Oakstone Ventures Inc.

    • White Oak Healthcare Finance LLC

      • Legal: King & Spalding LLP (Arthur Steinberg, Scott Davidson) & (local) The Rosner Law Group LLC (Frederick Rosner, Jason Gibson)

    • Marathon Asset Management

      • Legal: Ropes & Gray LLP (Matthew Roose)

    • Prepetition Term Loan Agents: Seaport Loan Products LLC & Wilmington Trust NA

      • Legal: Shearman & Sterling LLP (Ned Schodek, Jordan Wishnew) & (local) Potter Anderson & Corroon LLP (Jeremy Ryan, R. Stephen McNeill, D. Ryan Slaugh)

    • Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors

      • Legal: Greenberg Traurig LLP (David Cleary, Nancy Peterman, Dennis Meloro) & (local) Bayard PA (Justin Alberto, Erin Fay, Daniel Brogan)

Updated 5/18

😷New Chapter 11 Filing - Astria Health😷

Astria Health

May 6, 2019

Astria Health, a large non-profit healthcare system based in Eastern Washington, has filed for bankruptcy along with a dozen or so affiliates. The company blames its chapter 11 filing on regulatory approval processes that stunted expansion plans, poor collections on accounts receivable, and charitable care that, despite best efforts, hadn’t been offset by charitable contributions. All of these issues have squashed cash flow and triggered issues with the debtors’ secured debt, part of which is uber-expensive. The debtors intend to use their DIP credit facility to take out their expensive “high cost of capital” MidCap Financial Trust-provided (and other) debt; they also hope to use the “breathing spell” provided by the automatic stay to remedy their collections problems and march towards a plan of reorganization within 150 days.

  • Jurisdiction: E.D. of Washington (Judge Kurtz)

  • Capital Structure: $72mm secured debt

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Dentons US LLP (Samuel Maziel) & (local) Bush Kornfeld LLP (James Day)

    • Claims Agent: KCC (*click on the link above for free docket access)

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • DIP Lender: JMB Financial Advisors

      • Legal: Arent Fox LLP (Robert Hirsh, Jordana Renert) & (local) Southwell & O’Rourke (Kevin O’Rourke)

New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - The LaSalle Group Inc.

The LaSalle Group Inc.

May 2, 2019

Short Nana.

Texas-based The LaSalle Group Inc., an owner of 40 memory care assisted living communities across 9 states, and a handful of affiliated debtors filed for bankruptcy on May 2, 2019 and things ain’t looking pretty for the unsecured creditors: the company is administratively insolvent. The company owes $3.7mm at the parent level and then has ~$27.8mm of opco level debt among four debtor LLCs that are all owned 52% by a third-party investor (“Realco Silverado Investor”). Realco Silverado Investor seeks to purchase the opcos for $29mm, just enough to clear the debt at the opco level. Per the company, “[i]n the event this sale closes…[the notes]…should all be paid in full, all employees will have continual job opportunity, and all residents will remain in the residence they and their loved ones have chosen.” The bright side? This sounds like a good result for those most in need of it.

Why is the company in bankruptcy? It states:

“A surge in construction of assisted living facilities in recent years has created a supply-demand imbalance resulting in greater competition for residents and lower rates. This market dynamic has significantly impacted LaSalle and its affiliated entities (collectively, the “Autumn Leaves Group”) from a cash flow perspective. The Autumn Leaves Group has struggled with occupancy rates in certain markets which has significantly impacted revenue and cash flow.”

Moreover, LaSalle is the guarantor of substantially all of the secured debt and lease obligations. Its cash flow constraints precluded it from servicing its debt, culminating in approximately 30 lawsuits currently pending against LaSalle. As if that wasn’t bad enough, LaSalle also suffered the brunt of a United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division Memorandum Opinion and Order granting a motion for conditional certification of a collective action against it related to alleged hourly rate wage claims. And as if THAT wasn’t bad enough, LaSalle also faces various suits from vendors and other creditors for disputed unpaid claims. They’re all about to get hosed. The assets that aren’t sold to Realco Silverado Investor will be liquidated.

  • Jurisdiction: N.D. of Texas (Judge Jernigan)

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Crowe & Dunlevy PC (Vickie Driver, Christina Stephenson, Christopher Staine)

    • Financial Advisor/CRO: Harney Partners (Karen Nicolaou)

    • Claims Agent: Donlin Recano & Company Inc. (*click on the link above for free docket access)

  • Other Parties in Interest:

New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - New Cotai Holdings LLC

New Cotai Holdings LLC

May 1, 2019

New Cotai Holdings LLC and three affiliated debtors filed for bankruptcy in the Southern District of New York on the basis of New Cotai Ventures LLC, a NY LLC, having cash held in a bank account in White Plains New York (as of when, we wonder). The debtors were formed for the purpose of investing in Studio City International Holdings Limited, have no employees, and are otherwise managed by sponsor, Silver Point Capital LP. The declarant supporting the debtors’ chapter 11 filing is an independent director who was put into place literally 2 days before the filing. Yup, 2 whole days.

Studio City International Holdings Limited is a wretched hive of scum and villany. Sorry, that’s not right. That’s us trying to make this more interesting than it is. In truth, its an “integrated resort comprising entertainment, retail, hotel and gaming facilities” located in Macau (that’s China, people). The project has made it past Phase I of construction but has stalled out there: the rest of the project will require several more years. In October 2018, the company IPO’d 28.75mm American Depository Shares at $12.50/share.

To further capitalize the project, two of the debtors, as co-issuers, issued $380mm of 10.625% PIK Notes in 2013 due May 2019. Curious to know how 10.625% PIK adds up? The current principal balance of the notes is now $856mm.

Now, not to state the obvious, but to paydown Notes on maturity, you kinda need to have some moolah. And considering that the project is only past Phase I with much more work to do…well, you see where we are going here. The company notes:

The Debtors’ ability to satisfy their obligations under the Notes is directly tied to the development and success of the Studio City project. Due to delays in the development of the Studio City project, a reduced allocation of gaming tables from the government, and some unanticipated declines in the Macau gaming market, the Investment has not yet achieved sufficient market value in light of the highly illiquid and unreliable market conditions that have developed following the IPO, making a refinancing impracticable. Therefore, through no fault of their own, the Debtors were unable to satisfy the Notes obligations by their maturity.

Listen guys: you ain’t getting Matt Damon, George Clooney and other whales at your tables if you don’t have VIP tables. Obvi. Second, it sounds like the project hired the quintessential New York City-based general contractor. “Yeah, sure, the project will cost $30mm and take 1 month” only to cost “an additional $300 million” and take literally years. Of course “[c]onstruction costs came in greater than expected.” Isn’t that par for the course in hotel development? The company now has until 2021 to finish Phase II of the project. It sounds like it will need it.

Of course, you have to admire the entrepreneurial enthusiasm:

Notwithstanding the aforementioned challenges, the Debtors believe that the Investment continues to represent a significant economic opportunity—the value of which is not accurately represented in the current market prices of the ADS. Indeed, should the Studio City project continue to develop on its currently anticipated timeframe, the Debtors expect the Investment to generate sufficient value to repay the Notes in full.

The debtors must NOT be expecting a downturn. Gaming usually doesn’t fare too well during one of those. And Chinese growth hasn’t exactly been at levels enjoyed over the last decade or so. But, fingers crossed.

The debtors are negotiating with an Ad Hoc Group of noteholders in an effort to address this state of affairs. They have latitude: Silver Point has committed to a $6.25mm DIP with, among other favorable terms to the debtors, no milestones and a 12-month maturity (with an option to extend a subsequent 12 months). This DIP was not marketed and so the early part of the case will be spent presumably searching for alternatives. Because lenders surely love the idea of providing a DIP, the main purpose of which is to pay Skadden Arps’ and the Ad Hoc Group’s fees.

  • Jurisdiction: S.D. of New York (Judge Drain)

  • Capital Structure: $856mm (Wells Fargo Bank NA)

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP (Jay Goffman, Mark McDermott, Evan Hill)

    • Managing Member: Drivetrain Advisors LLC (John Brecker)

    • Financial Advisor: Houlihan Lokey Capital Inc.

    • Claims Agent: Prime Clerk LLC (*click on the link above for free docket access)

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Wells Fargo Bank NA

      • Legal: Arent Fox LLP (Andrew Silfen, Beth Brownstein)

    • Sponsor: Silver Point Capital LP

New Chapter 11 Filing - Sungard Availability Services Capital Inc.

Sungard Availability Services Capital Inc.

May 1, 2019

Pennsylvania-based Sungard Availability Services Capital Inc., a provider of “critical production and recovery services to global enterprise companies,” with $977mm of net revenue and $203mm of EBITDA in fiscal 2018 filed a prepackaged chapter 11 plan in the Southern District of New York on Wednesday and, if you blinked, you may have missed its residency in bankruptcy. Indeed, some lost their minds because Kirkland & Ellis LLP was able to shepherd the case in and out of bankruptcy in less than 24 hours — breaking the previous record only recently set in FullBeauty. Yes, people care about these things.*

The upshot of this expeditious bankruptcy case is that (a) the company shed nearly $900mm of debt from its balance sheet (reducing debt down to approximately $400-450mm) and (b) transferred 89% ownership to a variety of debt-for-equity swapping funds such as GSO Capital Partners, Angelo Gordon & Co., and Carlyle Group (who will also receive $300mm in senior secured term loan paper). Major equity holders — Bain Capital Integral Investors LLC, Blackstone Capital Partners IV LP, Blackstone GT Communications Partners LP, KKR Millennium Fund LP, Providence Equity Partners V LP, Silver Lake Partners II LP, TPG Partners IV LP — had their equity wiped out. We had previously highlighted KKR’s investment here in “A Hot-Potato Plan of Reorganization. Short BDC Retail Exposure,” discussing the broader context of BDC lending. This is what the capital structure looks like and will look like:

Source: Disclosure Statement

Source: Disclosure Statement

That balance sheet is the driver behind the bankruptcy filing. Per the company:

This legacy capital structure was created based upon the Company’s historical operating model and performance and is unsustainable under current market conditions. When the capital structure was put in place, the Company benefited from a larger revenue base with substantially higher free cash flow. As business conditions evolved and the Company’s revenue declined, cash flow available to service debt and invest in products and services substantially declined. Consolidated net revenue declined by approximately 18% from approximately $1.2 billion in 2016 to approximately $977 million in 20188 while adjusted EBITDA margins remained within a range of approximately 20% to 22%. Negative net cash flow from 2016 to 2018 was approximately $80 million.

In other words, this is as clear-cut a balance sheet restructuring that you can get. Indeed, general unsecured claims are — as you might expect from a prepackaged plan of reorganization — riding through unimpaired. This consensual restructuring is clearly the right result. Getting it in and out of court so quickly is a bonus.

Yet, lest anyone get too high on their own supply, it’s important to note that, while this is a good result under the circumstances, there is a significant amount of value destruction illustrated by this filing. The term lenders are getting merely an estimated 50-73% recovery while the noteholders are getting 7-14%**. Now, it IS reasonable to expect that the “par guys” blew out of this situation long ago. And it is also reasonable to assume that the current holders of loans and notes got in at a significant discount so “value destruction” really is a matter of timing/pricing. For the avoidance of doubt, however, there’s no question that certain lenders experienced some pain on the path to this filing. Here is the chart representing the company’s notes:

Screen Shot 2019-05-03 at 11.12.24 AM.png

So, while some are surely celebrating, others are surely licking their wounds.

*We don’t really want to be too flip about this. As critics of the bankruptcy process, we’re all for seeing more efficient uses of the bankruptcy court — even if that does mean that fees were run up pre-petition without any oversight whatsoever.

**You always have to take these recovery amounts with a grain of salt. In case the rampant Chapter 22s haven’t already taught you that.

  • Jurisdiction: S.D. of New York (Judge Drain)

  • Capital Structure:

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Kirkland & Ellis LLP (Jonathan Henes, Emily Geier, Ryan Blaine Bennett, Laura Krucks

    • Board of Directors: Darren Abrahamson, Patrick J. Bartels Jr., Randy Hendricks, John Park, David Treadwell

    • Financial Advisor/CRO: AlixPartners LLP (Eric Koza)

    • Investment Banker: Centerview Partners (Samuel Greene)

    • Claims Agent: Prime Clerk LLC (*click on the link above for free docket access)

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • DIP Agent: JPMorgan Chase Bank NA

    • Secured Lender Group

      • Jones Day (Scott Greenberg, Michael Cohen, Nicholas Morin)

      • Financial Advisor: Houlihan Lokey Capital Inc.

    • Crossover Group

      • Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP (Philip Dublin, Naomi Moss)

      • Financial Advisor: PJT Partners LP

    • Large Equityholders: Bain Capital Integral Investors LLC, Blackstone Capital Partners IV LP, Blackstone GT Communications Partners LP, KKR Millennium Fund LP, Providence Equity Partners V LP, Silver Lake Partners II LP, TPG Partners IV LP

      • Legal: Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison LLP (Brian Hermann, Jacob Adlerstein)

New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - Kona Grill Inc. ($KONA)

Kona Grill Inc.

April 30, 2019

Let’s be honest: we’ve given this sh*t stain of a company far too much coverage given its size. Yet, it’s part of a broader casual dining narrative that is important to follow and, significantly, we took it upon ourselves to highlight how this thing was SO CLEARLY headed towards bankruptcy a year ago considering the company is (somewhat inexplicably) publicly-traded ($KONA). We first mentioned it in this Members’-only piece in April 2018. We dug deeper in this Members’-only briefing on August 2018. Additional mentions came here, here, here (“…there is no way this thing DOESN’T end up in bankruptcy court soon. It just blew out its board. It is on to its umpteenth CEO in a matter of years. Revenues fell 15.7% in the most recent reported quarter. Same-store sales fell 14.1%. 14.1%!!!! It’s just a matter of ‘when’ at this point.”), and, finally, as recently as April 28, 2019, here, wherein we wrote “[s]tick a fork in it.

Well, stick a fork in it, indeed. The company and several affiliated companies are now chapter 11 debtors in the District of Delaware.

To refresh your recollection, the company is a casual dining restaurant chain with 27 locations (down from 40+ locations when we first started discussing the company over a year ago). “The restaurants feature contemporary American favorites, award-winning sushi and an extensive selection of alcoholic beverages.” Award winning sushi, huh? We did some googling and were unable to ascertain which fine organization conferred upon Kona Grill Inc. an award for its fine sushi. But we digress.

As you might expect from such a long-time-coming sh*t show, the debtors’ first day filing papers are pure comedy chock full of hyperbolic bull sh*t. It’s amusing what the debtors say and it’s laughable what they don’t say. The first day declaration reads like marketing materials: it states that the company offers “an upscale contemporary ambience” with an “exceptional” dining experience and a “legendary” happy hour. The fact that this company is in bankruptcy belies the claim that the experience is exceptional. As for legend, Arya Stark is a legend; Tony Stark is a legend. Michael Jordan is a legend. Kona Grill has a bar that serves drinks. We can assure you with 100% certainty that there is absolutely nothing legendary about it. Indeed, revenues in fiscal ‘18 were $156.9mm, down 12.4% YOY, and, as of the petition date, the company had a meaningfully non-legendary $1.2mm of cash on hand. Legendary, our a$$es.

The company is party to a $33.2mm credit agreement split between a revolving loan and a term loan and has been in a state of perpetual amendment since Q1 2017. The company also owes unsecured trade creditors $8mm.

Why is the company in bankruptcy? Here’s where we get comedy by omission. Yes, sure, they acknowledge that they doubled their restaurants between ‘13 and ‘17, spent a ton on marketing to reverse negative same-store sale trends, and then engaged in an ill-advised stock repurchase program in 2016/2017, further draining much needed liquidity. Thereafter, the company was forced to deploy the standard playbook: cease opening new locations, shutter some underperforming stores (PETITION Note: the company filed a motion seeking to reject 18 leases already), fire people, cut back on training and staffing, etc. G-d help the people who actually ate there during this period: we can only imagine what happened to the food quality. What the company doesn’t say, though, is that there has been a revolving door of CEOs. We suppose the debtors ought to be commended for not completely throwing prior management teams under the bus. This may have something to do with active lawsuits between the company and a former CEO.

What’s crazy is that the company didn’t hire a banker until March 2019. This is a company that should have been marketed long ago. Notably, there’s no stalking horse buyer lined up. And while the company does have a commitment from KeyBank for $39.2mm of DIP financing (of which only $6mm is new money), the company also has a hard deadline of August 9, 2019 to avoid a default. Will it be able to find a buyer now?

We suppose we’ll find out how “legendary” things are after all.

  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware (Judge )

  • Capital Structure: $33.2mm

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Pachulski Stang Ziehl & Jones LLP (James O’Neill, John Lucas, Jeremy Richards)

    • Financial Advisor/CRO: Alvarez & Marsal LLC (Christopher Wells, Jonathan Tibus)

    • Investment Banker: Piper Jaffrey

    • Claims Agent: Epiq Corporate Restructuring LLC (*click on the link above for free docket access)

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • DIP Agent: KeyBank National Association

      • Legal: Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC (Mary Caloway)

🎥New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - Fuse LLC (a/k/a Fuse Media)🎥

Fuse LLC

April 22, 2019

California-based Fuse LLC, a multicultural media company composed principally of the cable networks Fuse and FM, filed a prepackaged chapter 11 along with 8 affiliated debtors in the District of Delaware to effectuate a swap of $242mm of outstanding secured debt for $45mm in term loans (accruing at a STRONG 12% interest and maturing in five years), new membership interests in the reorganized company and interests in a litigation trust. General unsecured creditors will recover nothing despite being owed approximately $10mm to $25mm.

The company is well known to millions of US homes: approximately 61mm homes get Fuse, an independent cable network that targets young multicultural Americans and Latinos. FM’s music-centric content reached approximately 40.5mm homes “at its peak.” The company has three principal revenue streams: (a) affiliate fees; (b) advertising; and (c) sponsored events; it generated $114.7mm in net revenue for the fiscal year ended 12/31/18 and “had projected affiliate fees of approximately $495 million through 2020.

Why is it in bankruptcy? In a word, disruption. Disruption of content suppliers (here, Fuse) and content distributors (the traditional pay-tv companies). Compounding the rapid changes in the media marketplace is the company’s over-levered balance sheet, an albatross that hindered the company’s ability to innovate in an age of “peak TV” characterized by endless original and innovative content.

The company illustrates all of this nicely:

“…the overall pay-TV industry is in a period of substantial transformation as the result of the introduction into the marketplace in recent years of high quality and relatively inexpensive and consumer friendly content alternatives (e.g., Netflix, Hulu and others). The ongoing marketplace changes have resulted in, and will continue to cause, a material decline in pay-tv subscribers and related affiliate fee revenue as a result of a declining number of new subscribers, "cord-cutting" (the cancellation of an existing pay-tv subscription), and "cord-shaving" (the downgrading of a pay-tv subscription from a higher priced package to a lower priced package). Each quarter the Company receives less revenue from its traditional pay-tv distribution partners as the result of the decline in subscribers receiving the Company's networks. And new sources of revenue for the Company, although developing and in progress, have not grown sufficiently to offset revenue declines in the legacy business. As a result of these trends, the refinancing of the Company's debt was not viable.”

Said another way, on a macro level, Netflix Inc. ($NFLX), Amazon Inc’s ($AMZN) Prime service, Hulu ($DIS) and various other OTT services have taken a huge chunk out of conventional bundlers and now victims are shaking from the tree. On a more micro level, the company is subject to distribution agreements with pay-TV operators. The majority of agreements were guaranteed through 2020, representing contracted revenue estimated at approximately $495mm through 2020. But the company’s debt, however, prevented it from investing in programming, marketing and original content at the same pace as its rivals. Consequently, Comcast and Verizon Fios ($VZ)— which represent significant percentages of the debtors’ subscriber base and, in turn, revenue — stopped distributing Fuse at the end of 2018. Compounding matters, DirecTV recently notified the company that it, too, intended to terminate its distribution agreement with the debtors — which is now subject to litigation in California. Talk about a hat trick!!

The company intends to use cash collateral to finance its cases. If successful, the company will emerge from bankruptcy with a substantially reduced balance sheet, having cut its debt by approximately 80%. After de-levering, the company believes it…

“… will be better able to effectively support its core linear networks business, as well as pursue growth areas, such as virtual multichannel video programming distribution (e.g., YouTube TV and Hulu Live), advertising supported distribution (AVOD), and complementary areas such as live events and music festivals. The Company also will be well-positioned post-emergence to explore strategic transactions that can accelerate greater growth in new areas for stakeholders.”

We suspect Fuse won’t be the last content supplier to shake out from this evolution in the media space.

  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware (Judge Gross)

  • Capital Structure: $242mm 10.375% Senior Secured Notes due 2019

  • Company Professionals:

    • Legal: Pachulski Stang Ziehl & Jones LLP (Richard Pachulski, Ira Kharasch, Maxim Litvak, James O’Neill)

    • Financial Advisor: FTI Consulting Inc. (Michael Katzenstein)

    • Claims Agent: KCC (*click on company name above for free docket access)

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Supporting Noteholders

      • Legal: Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson LLP (Brad Scheler, Peter Siroka, Emil Buchman, Andrew Minear) & (local) Richards Layton & Finger PA (Michael Merchant)

New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - Achaogen Inc.

Achaogen Inc.

April 15, 2019

Biopharma is where it’s at!!

San Francisco-based Achaogen Inc. ($AKAO) is the latest in a slate of biopharma debtors who have found their way into bankruptcy court — here, the District of Delaware. Achaogen is focused on “the development and commercialization of innovative antibiotic treatments against multi-drug resistant gram-negative infections.” To date, its operations have been centered around the discovery, development and commercialization of products, making it as far as clinical trials in certain instances. As if inspired by the fact that its filing came on the heels of the much-anticipated Game of Thrones (final) Season 8 premiere, the company colorfully notes its primary purpose:

Achaogen designed its lead product, ZEMDRI® (plazomicin), to fight what the Center for Disease Control (“CDC”) calls a “nightmare bacteria” and has listed as the highest category threat of “urgent.” ZEMDRI can be used to treat patients who have limited or no alternative treatment options from infections with these nightmare bacteria. Even with its current financial situation, Achaogen continues to commercialize ZEMDRI, in part because Achaogen believes that ZEMDRI can save lives for patients who may literally have no alternative.

Nightmare bacteria!! Sheesh that’s chilling.

Even more chilling is the company’s discussion of gram-negative bacteria — found “everywhere, in virtually all environments on Earth that support life.” These bacteria are becoming increasingly resistant to common antibiotics. Achaogen calls this “a global crisis…we take for granted.” The company’s core (patented) product, ZEMDRI, is designed to “retain its effectiveness in killing these more resistant bacteria.” While ZEMDRI received FDA approval for IV-treatment of patients with complicated urinary tract infections in July 2018, the FDA rejected ZEMDRI for treatment of patients with bloodstream infections, citing a lack of substantial evidence of effectiveness.

What does the company have going for it? Again, as of July 2018, it has a commercially viable product in the United States. It also has global commercialization rights. And patent protect in the US through approximately 2031 or 2032. It sells to either specialty distributors or physician-owned infusion centers. It has agreements with Hovione Limited and Pfizer for the manufacturing of its product. Finally, it has another product in development, C-Scape, which is an oral antibiotic for treatment of patients suffering from urinary tract infections caused by a particular bacteria.

So, what’s the issue? As PETITION readers have come to learn, the development and manufacture of biopharma products is a time and capital intensive process. Indeed, the company has an accumulated deficit of $559.4mm as of December 31, 2018. This bit is especially puzzling given the company’s position that the world confronts a “global crisis”:

In the past year, there has been a dramatic downturn in the availability of financing from both the debt and equity markets for companies in the anti-infective field, based in part on the withdrawal from the space by certain large pharmaceutical companies. For example, Novartis recently announced that it is shutting down its antibacterial and antiviral research, which was followed by similar moves from Eli Lilly, Bristol-Myers Squibb and AstraZeneca.3 Allergan has also recently announced its intention to divest its anti-infective business, consisting of three commercialized products. This “big pharma flight” from antiinfective research, development and commercialization has created significant challenges for early-stage biotech companies seeking to develop and commercialize novel and much needed drugs in this sector, as opportunities for partnerships, joint R&D relationships, and merger/acquisition transactions have diminished. This sector-wide trend has negatively affected not just Achaogen but many of its competitors. Achaogen, however, has been especially impacted because it has reached the point in its life cycle where it needs substantial capital infusion to drive commercialization of its recently FDA approved drug, ZEMDRI.

Look: we don’t take everything debtors say as gospel. After all, first day pleadings are an opportunity to frame the story and set the tone of a case. But if the company is right about what it’s saying and nobody appears to give two sh*ts, well, color us a wee bit concerned. Why isn’t anybody talking about this?

Anyway, in February 2018, the company entered into a loan and security agreement with Silicon Valley Bank for $50mm. The original agreement provided SVB with a security interest in virtually all of the company’s assets — including proceeds of intellectual property — but not a security interest in the IP itself. $15mm remains outstanding under the loan. In November 2018, the company retained Evercore Group LLP to run a strategic sale process but no viable purchaser emerged. It’s not worth saving the world unless you can make some dinero, we suppose.

After engaging in various liquidity maximization efforts (including job cuts), fundraising initiatives (including an insufficient equity raise), and licensing discussions with entities abroad, the company ultimately decided that nothing would generate enough liquidity for the company to avoid chapter 11. The company notes, “although Achaogen’s out-of-court sale process did not yield any acceptable bids, many parties had expressed interest in bidding at any potential 363 auction sale, where it could pursue the Assets free and clear of existing liabilities.” The company, therefore, filed for chapter 11 to pursue a new sale process; it has no stalking horse bidder teed up. To market its assets, the company has replaced Evercore with Cassel Salpeter & Co. LLC.

In support of the bankruptcy case, SVB committed to provide the company with a $25mm DIP credit facility of which $10mm is new money and $15mm is a roll-up of the aforementioned pre-petition debt. In exchange, SVB now gets a security interest in the company’s IP.

The company’s unsecured debt is comprised of lease obligations, minimum purchase requirements under its manufacturing contract, a success fee tied to the company’s FDA approval, and $18.7mm of trade debt. New Enterprise Associates Inc., a reputed Silicon Valley venture capital firm, is the company’s largest equity holder with approximately 10.76% of the company’s shares. Prior to its 2014 IPO, the company had raised $152.1mm starting with its Series A round in August 2004: it IPO’d at a valuation of $200.4mm, having issued 6.9mm shares at $12/share to the public. It’s equity is likely worth f*ck all. Well, not exactly: we suppose this isn’t ENTIRELY “f*ck all”:

Screen Shot 2019-04-15 at 2.48.04 PM.png

But it’s pretty darn close. Now the issue is what price the IP will fetch in a bankruptcy sale process. It will have to be tens of millions of dollars for NEA to have any sort of recovery.

  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware (Judge Shannon)

  • Capital Structure: $15mm secured debt (Silicon Valley Bank)

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Hogan Lovells US LLP (Erin Brady, Richard Wynne, Christopher Bryant, John Beck) & (local) Morris Nichols Arsht & Tunnell LLP (Derek Abbott, Andrew Remming, Matthew Talmo, Paige Topper)

    • Financial Advisor: Meru LLC

    • Investment Banker: Cassel Salpeter & Co., LLC

    • Claims Agent: KCC (*click on the link above for free docket access)

  • Other Professionals:

    • Prepetition & DIP Lender ($25mm): Silicon Valley Bank

      • Legal: Morrison & Foerster LLP ( Alexander Rheaume, Todd Goren, Benjamin Butterfield, David Ephraim) & (local) Ashby & Geddes PA (Gregory Taylor, Stacy Newman)

    • Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors (Hovione Limited, EsteveQuimica SA, Solar Capital Ltd.,. Crystal BioScience, World Courier)

⛽️New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - Jones Energy Inc.⛽️

Jones Energy Inc.

April 14, 2019

Austin-based independent oil and natural gas E&P company, Jones Energy Inc., filed a prepackaged chapter 11 bankruptcy to restructure its $1.009b of debt ($450mm senior secured first lien notes and $559mm unsecured notes across two tranches). In case you didn’t realize, oil and gas exploration and production is a capital intensive business.

The company operates primarily in the Anadarko Basin in Oklahoma and Texas. Its territory is the aggregation of acreage accumulated over the years, including the 2009 purchase of Crusader Energy Group Inc. out of bankruptcy for $240.5mm in cash.

We’re not going to belabor the point as to why this company is in bankruptcy: the narrative is no different than most other oil and gas companies that have found their way into bankruptcy court over the last several years. Indeed, this chart about sums things up nicely:

Screen Shot 2019-04-05 at 2.29.01 PM.png

It’s really just a miracle that it didn’t file sooner. Why hadn’t it? Per the company:

…the Debtors consummated a series of liquidity enhancing transactions, including equity raises, debt repurchases, strategic acquisitions, non-core asset sales, and modifications of their operations to reduce their workforce and drilling activities. This included a Company-wide headcount reduction in 2016 resulting in the termination of approximately 30% of the Debtors’ total workforce, as well as halting drilling activity spanning several months during the worst of the historic commodity downturn.

But…well…the debt. As in, there’s too much of it.

Screen Shot 2019-04-05 at 2.56.24 PM.png

And debt service costs were too damn high. In turn, the company’s securities traded too damn low:

Source: Disclosure Statement

Source: Disclosure Statement

What’s more interesting here is the process that unfolded. In February 2018, the company issued $450mm of 9.25% ‘23 senior secured first lien notes. The proceeds were used to repay the company’s senior secured reserve-based facility and eliminate the restrictive covenants contained therein. The company also hoped to use the proceeds to repurchase some of its senior unsecured notes at a meaningful discount to par. In a rare — yet increasingly common — show of unity, however, the company’s unsecured lenders thwarted these efforts by binding together pursuant to a “cooperation agreement” and telling the company to take its pathetic offer and pound sand. (PETITION Note: its amazing what lenders can achieve if they can solve for a collective action problem). This initiated a process that ultimately led to the transaction commemorated in the company’s announces restructuring support agreement.

So what now? The senior secured lenders will equitize their debt and come out with 96% of the common stock in the reorganized entity. Holders of unsecured debt will get 4% equity and warrants (exercisable for up to a 15% ownership stake in the reorganized company), both subject to dilution by equity issued to management under a “Management Incentive Plan.” The company has a commitment for $20mm of exit financing lined up (with the option for replacement financing of up to $150mm).

Hopefully the company will have better luck without the albatross of so much debt hanging over it.

  • Jurisdiction: S.D. of Texas (Judge TBD)

  • Capital Structure: $450mm 9.25% ‘23 senior secured first lien notes (UMB Bank NA), $559mm 6.75% ‘22 and 9.25% ‘23 unsecured notes (Wells Fargo Bank NA)

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Kirkland & Ellis LLP (James Sprayragen, Christopher Marcus, Brian Schartz, Anthony Grossi, Ana Rotman, Rebecca Blake Chaikin, Mark McKane, Brett Newman, Kevin Chang) & (local) Jackson Walker LLP (Matthew Cavenaugh, Jennifer Wertz)

    • Independent Directors: Tara Lewis, L. Spencer Wells

    • Financial Advisor: Alvarez & Marsal LLC (Ryan Omohundro)

    • Investment Banker: Evercore Group LLC (Daniel Aronson)

    • Claims Agent: Epiq (*click on the link above for free docket access)

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Ad Hoc Group of First Lien Noteholders

      • Legal: Milbank LLP (Dennis Dunne, Evan Fleck, Michael Price) & (local) Porter Hedges LLP (John Higgins, Eric English, Genevieve Graham)

      • Financial Advisor: Lazard Freres & Co. LLC

    • Ad Hoc Group of Crossover Holders

      • Legal: Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP (Brian Resnick, Benjamin Schak) & (local) Haynes and Boone LLP (Charlie Beckham, Kelli Norfleet)

      • Financial Advisor: Houlihan Lokey Capital Inc.

    • Metalmark Capital LLC

      • Legal: Vinson & Elkins LLP (Andrew Geppert, David Meyer, Jessica Peet, Michael Garza)

Updated 4/15/19 2:05 CT