After months of speculation (which we have covered here and elsewhere), the famed Nashville-based guitar manufacturer has finally filed for Chapter 11. We're old enough to remember this:
Late Tuesday, GIbson Brands CEO Henry Juszkiewicz denied all of the reports and indicated via press release that a plan was underway to salvage the brand.
What Mr. Juszkiewicz didn't say was that "a plan" actually meant a "plan of reorganization." Which is okay: nobody believed him anyway.
And here's why: in the company's First Day Declaration, the company proudly boasts,
The Debtors' strength, rooted in their iconic Gibson, Epiphone, KRK, and other brands that have shaped the music industry for over 100 years, have been the brands of choice for countless musicians and recording artists, including some of the most legendary guitarists in history such as Muddy Waters, BB King, Elvis Presley, Pete Townsend, Keith Richards, Duane Allman, Elvis Costello, Lenny Kravitz, Slash, Dave Grohl, Joe Bonamassa, and Brad Paisley, among others.
Anyone else see an issue with this lineup? Legends, sure, but not exactly a group of artists you see listed on Coachella posters. Even in a publicly-available document, this company doesn't know how to market itself to the masses. Case and point, after Guitar Center got its out-of-court deal done last week, we wrote the following:
Gibson may want to embrace the present. But we digress.
Unbeknownst to many, however, Gibson is more than just its legendary guitars. No doubt, guitars are a big part of its business. According to the company's First Day Declaration (which, for the record, is one of the more jumbled incoherent narratives we've seen in a First Day Declaration in some time),
Gibson has the top market share in premium electric guitars, selling over 170,000 guitars annually in over eighty (80) countries worldwide and selling over 40% of all electric guitars priced above $2,000.
But the company also expanded to include a "Professional Audio" segment, its musical instrument and pro-audio segment ("MI," which is positive cash flow), and a "Gibson Innovations" business ("GI"), which stems from a 2014 leveraged transaction. The latter business has been a drag on the overall enterprise ever since the transaction eventually leading to breaches of certain financial covenants under the company's senior secured bank debt financing agreements. The company was forced to pay down the debt to the tune of $60 million since the Fall of 2017, a cash drain which severely accentuated liquidity issues within that business. It came to this brutal reality:
...the GI Business became trapped in a vicious cycle in which it lacked the liquidity to buy inventory and drive sales while at the same time it lacked the liquidity to rationalize its workforce to match its diminished operations.
That's rough. Even rougher is that on April 30, 2018, the GI business initiated formal liquidation proceedings under the laws of at least 8 different countries. Looks like Mr. Juszkiewicz' previous expansion "plan" was an utter disaster.
⚡️Warning: Geeky stuff to follow ⚡️:
Now, the company is left with restructuring around the EBITDA- positive MI business with the hope of maximizing recovery for stakeholders. The holders of 69% of the principal amount of notes (PETITION NOTE: for the uninitiated, this satisfies the 2/3 in amount requirement of the bankruptcy code; unknown whether they satisfy the second prong of 1/2 in number) have entered into a Restructuring Support Agreement which would effectively equitize the notes and transfer ownership of MI to the noteholders. The company has also entered into a $135 DIP credit facility backstopped by an ad hoc group of noteholders to finance the company's trip through bankruptcy (the mechanic of which effectively rolls up some of the prepetition debt into the postpetition facility, giving the noteholders higher distribution priority).
The RSA envisions a transaction whereby the company will exit bankruptcy with an untapped asset-backed lending facility and enough exit financing to pay off the DIP facility. So, the noteholders will collect some nice fees for about 9 months. The lenders under the DIP facility will have the option to cover the DIP monies into equity in the reorganized company at a 20% discount to the plan's valuation.
⚡️Geeky Stuff Over. Now Back to Regularly Scheduled Snark ⚡️:
Naturally, current management has somehow convinced the new owners, i.e., the funds converting their notes into equity, that they're so invaluable that they should receive millions in "transition"-based compensation and warrants for upside preservation. Makes total sense. David Berryman, who runs Epiphone, will get a one year employment agreement paying $3.35 million, 5 year-warrants, and health benefits; Mr. Juszciewicz will get a one year "consulting agreement" paying $2.1 million, 5 year-warrants and health benefits (plus other profit-sharing incentives). It sure pays to run a company into bankruptcy these days. Naturally, they'll also get releases from any liability. Because, you know, bankruptcy!!
One final note: Thomas Lauria and White & Case LLP are listed as the 22nd highest creditor. Popping popcorn.
- Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware
- Capital Structure: $17.5 million ABL (Bank of America NA)/ $77.4 million Term Loan (GSO Capital Solutions Fund II AIV-I LP), $375 million '18 8.875% senior secured notes (Wilmington Trust NA), $60 million ITLA loan (GI Business only)
- Company Professionals:
- Legal: Goodwin Proctor LLP (Michael H. Goldstein, Gregory W. Fox, Barry Z. Bazian) & (local) Pepper Hamilton LLP (David Stratton, David Fournier, Michael Custer, Marcy McLaughlin)
- Financial Advisor/CRO: Alvarez & Marsal North America LLC (Brian Fox)
- Investment Banker: Jefferies LLC (Jeffrey Finger)
- Independent Directors: Alan Carr & Sol Picciotto
- Claims Agent: Prime Clerk LLC (*click on company name above for free docket access)
- Other Parties in Interest:
- DIP Agent: Cortland Capital Market Services LLC
- Legal: Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer (D. Tyler Nurnberg, Steven Fruchter, Sarah Gryll) & (local) Young Conaway (same four names as below)
- Prepetition ABL Agent: Bank of America NA
- Legal: Winston & Strawn LLP (Jason Bennett, Christina Wheaton)
- Indenture Trustee: Wilmington Trust NA
- Legal: Shipman & Goodwin LLP (Marie Hofsdal, Patrick Sibley, Seth Lieberman, Eric Monzo)
- Ad Hoc Group of Noteholders
- Legal: Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison LLP (Brian Hermann, Robert Britton, Adam Denhoff, Kellie Cairns) & (local) Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor LLP (Pauline Morgan, Sean Greecher, Andrew Magaziner, Betsy Feldman)
- Ad Hoc Minority Noteholders Committee (Lord Abbett & Co. LLC, Wilks Brothers LLC)
- Legal: Brown Rudnick LLP (Robert Stark, Steven Levine, Brian Rice) & (local) Ashby & Geddes PA (William Bowden)
- Equity Holder: GSO Capital Partners LP
- Legal: White & Case LLP (J. Christopher Shore, Andrew Zatz, Richard Kebrdle) & (local) Fox Rothschild LLP (Jeffrey Schlerf, Carl Neff, Margaret Manning)
- DIP Agent: Cortland Capital Market Services LLC
Updated 5/2 5:12 pm CT