June 16, 2019
Pour one out for the fine folks of eastern Kentucky and western Virginia. They can’t seem to catch a break.
Earlier this week, Cambrian Holding Company Inc. (and its affiliate debtors) joined a long line of coal producers/processors (e.g., Cloud Peak Energy, Westmoreland Coal, Mission Coal) who have recently filed for bankruptcy. The company employees approximately 660 people, none of whom are members of a labor union (in contrast to bigger, more controversial, coal filings, i.e., Westmoreland) and most of whom must be fretting over their futures. They must really be getting tired of all of the post-election “winning” that’s going on in coal country.
The company’s problems appear to start in 2015, at the time the company acquired TECO Coal LLC and assumed $40mm of workers’ compensation and black lung liabilities that TECO had previously self-insured. The company sought to leverage its broader scale to increase production but it failed to raise the working capital it needed to live up to its obligations and sustain production at levels necessary to service the company’s balance sheet. Post-acquisition, the company doubled revenues, but it couldn’t sustain that progress and nevertheless recorded net losses from 2015 through 2018. In turn, the company triggered financial covenant and other defaults under its ABL Revolver and Term Loan.
In other words, the company has been in a state of emergency ever since the acquisition. Almost immediately, the company “undertook various efforts to return to a positive cashflow,” which, as you might expect, meant idling or closing certain mining operations, stretching the usable life of equipment, and laying off employees.* Its efforts proved fruitless. Per the company:
Notwithstanding these efforts, the Debtors have been unable to overcome the pressures placed on their profit margins from steadily declining coal prices (along with burdensome regulations and the accompanying decline in demand for coal), all of which have contributed to the Debtors’ substantial negative cashflow and inability to consummate a value-enhancing transaction.
So, what now? The company, with assistance from Jefferies LLC, will attempt to find a buyer willing to catch a falling knife: the plan is to “commence an expeditious sale and marketing process” of the company’s assets (call us crazy, but shouldn’t it be the other way around?). To fund this process, the company has a DIP commitment from affiliates of pre-petition lenders for $15mm.**
*Interestingly, it was in March 2016 when Hilary Clinton infamously stated, “Because we're going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.” At the time, Cambrian was already struggling, laying off people in an attempt to generate positive cashflow. That message really must’ve struck a chord down in coal country. WHOOPS.
**The Term Lenders swiftly objected to the terms of the DIP and the use of cash collateral.
Jurisdiction: D. of Kentucky (Judge Schaaf)
Capital Structure: $48mm ABL Revolver (Deutsche Bank AG New York Branch), $78mm Term Loan (Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas)
Legal: Frost Brown Todd LLC (Ronald Gold, Douglas Lutz, Patrica Burgess)
Financial Advisor: FTI Consulting Inc. (Bertrand Troiano)
Investment Banker: Jefferies LLC (Leon Szlezinger)
Claims Agent: Epiq Bankruptcy Solutions LLC (*click on the link above for free docket access)
Other Parties in Interest:
Term Lenders: Deutsche Bank AG, London Branch, Tennenbaum Opportunities Partners V, LP and Tennenbaum Opportunities Fund VI, LLC
Legal: Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP (Brian Resnick, Christopher Robertson, Elliot Moskowitz) & (local) Bingham Greenbaum Doll LLP (Christopher Madden)
DIP & Bridge Lender: Richmond Hill Capital Partners, LP