November 12, 2018
San Antonio-based independent oil company All American Oil & Gas Inc. (“AAOG”) and its two affiliated companies, Western Power & Steam Inc. (“WPS”) and Kern River Holding Inc. (“KRH”) filed for bankruptcy earlier this week in the Western District of Texas. WPS is a power company that sells power to the likes of Pacific Gas & Electric — a company that, as we’ve previously noted, is having problems of its own (which only appear to be getting worse) — and provides electricity and steam to KRH to aid KRH’s efforts to extract oil.
The enterprise is reportedly cash flow positive, with approximately $25mm in EBITDA in 217 and higher EBITDA projected for 2018. So what gives?
The debtors accuse their successor lender, Kern Cal Oil 7 LLC (“KCO7”), which acquired the company’s secured debt from Alliance-Bernstein, of “not act[ing] as a typical lender,” instead “implement[ing] a predatory ‘loan to own’ strategy.” The debtors note:
Unlike many E&P cases, this bankruptcy filing is not the result of the Company’s poor operational performance, illiquidity, debt maturities or lack of underlying value. Rather, it was precipitated by KCO7’s efforts to exploit its rights under the Credit Agreements to obtain the Debtors’ assets ‘on the cheap,’ and thereby to destroy tens of millions in equity value.
In a dramatic twist, Kern Cal Oil 7 LLC is, according to the debtors, run by two former investment bankers “who were fired allegedly for cause from AAOG’s and KRH’s former investment banker and financial advisor Cappello Capital Corporation” and have an SEC claim filed against them for “breach of fiduciary duty, misappropriation of confidential information, and fraud, among other allegations.” Salacious.
In October, Kern Oil 7 LLC, under the auspices of attending a constructive meeting relating to potential M&A involving Kern Oil and the debtors, issued a notice of default on the basis of insufficient hedging, a move the debtors claim “was a transparent attempt to intimidate AAOG into handing over the Company to KCO7 for little or no value to its shareholders.” Suffice it to say that there is other dramatic stuff here including the debtors’ inability to put hedges in place, purportedly due to the notice of default, incomplete documentation relating to the change from Alliance-Bernstein to KCO7, and more. KCO7 notified the debtors that default interest now applied and on November 8, the debtors had a scheduled interest payment to make which, given these circumstances, the debtors opted not to make. In turn, the debtors filed for bankruptcy to “protect its going concern enterprise value and to restructure its secured debt.”
To fund their cases, the debtors seek authority to use their pre-petition lenders’ (read: KCO7) cash collateral. That ought to be a fun first day hearing.
Jurisdiction: W.D. of Texas (Judge King)
Capital Structure: $80.1mm ‘19 first lien debt (plus $789k in accrued/unpaid interest)(Kern Cal Oil 7 LLC), $50mm ‘20 second lien debt (plus $10.6mm PIK and $440k accrued/unpaid interest)(Kern Cal Oil 7 LLC)
Legal: Hogan Lovells US LLP (Richard Wynne, Bennett Spiegel, Erin Brady, Christopher Bryant, John Beck, Sean Feener) & (local) Dykema Gossett PLLC (Deborah Williamson, Patrick Huffstickler, Danielle Rushing)
Investment Banker: Houlihan Lokey
Claims Agent: BMC Group Inc. (*click on company name above for free docket access)
Other Parties in Interest:
Kern Oil 7 LLC
Legal: O’Melveny & Myers LLP (Stephen Warren)