New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - F+W Media Inc.

F+W Media Inc.

March 10, 2019

WAAAAAAY back in September 2018, we highlighted in our Members’-only piece, “Online Education & ‘Community’ (Long Helen Mirren),” that esteemed author and professor Clayton Christensen was bullish about the growth of online education and bearish about colleges and universities in the US. We also wrote that Masterclass, a SF-based online education platform that gives students “access” to lessons from the likes of Helen Mirren(acting), Malcolm Gladwell (writing) and Ken Burns (documentary film making) had just raised $80mm in Series D financing, bringing its total fundraising to $160mm. Online education is growing, we noted, comporting nicely with Christensen’s thesis.

But we didn’t stop there. We counter-punched by noting the following:

Yet, not all online educational tools are killing it. Take F+W Media Inc., for instance. F+W is a New York-based private equity owned content and e-commerce company; it publishes magazines, books, digital products like e-books and e-magazines, produces online video, offers online education, and operates a variety of e-commerce channels that support the various subject matters it specializes in, e.g., arts & crafts, antiques & collectibles, and writing. Writer’s Digest is perhaps its best known product. Aspiring writers can go there for online and other resources to learn how to write.

For the last several years F+W has endeavored to shift from its legacy print business to a more digital operation; it is also beginning to show cracks. Back in January, the company’s CEO, COO and CTO left the company. A media and publishing team from FTI Consulting Inc. ($FTI) is (or at least was) embedded with new management. The company has been selling non-core assets (most recently World Tea Media). Its $125mm 6.5% first lien term loan due June 2019 was recently bid at 63 cents on the dollar (with a yield-to-worst of 74.8% — yields are inversely proportional to price), demonstrating, to put it simply, a market view that the company may not be able to pay the loan (or refinance the loan at or below the current economics) when it comes due.

Unlike MasterClass and Udacity and others, F+W didn’t start as an all-digital enterprise. The shift from a legacy print media business to a digital business is a time-consuming and costly one. Old management got that process started; new management will need to see it through, managing the company’s debt in the process. If the capital markets become less favorable and/or the business doesn’t show that the turnaround can result in meaningful revenue, the company could be F(+W)’d(emphasis added)

Nailed it.

On March 10, 2019, F+W Media Inc., a multi-media company owning and operating print and digital media platforms, filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in the District of Delaware along with several affiliated entities. We previously highlighted Writer’s Digest, but the company’s most successful revenue streams are its “Crafts Community” ($32.5mm of revenue in 2018) and “Artist’s Network” ($.8.7mm of revenue in 2018); it also has a book publishing business that generated $22mm in 2018. In terms of “master classes,” the bankruptcy papers provide an intimate look into just how truly difficult it is to transform a legacy print business into a digital multi-media business.

The numbers are brutal. The company notes that:

“In the years since 2015 alone, the Company’s subscribers have decreased from approximately 33.4 million to 21.5 million and the Company’s advertising revenue has decreased from $20.7 million to $13.7 million.”

This, ladies and gentlemen, reflects in concrete numbers, what many in media these days have been highlighting about the ad-based media model. The company continues:

Over the past decade, the market for subscription print periodicals of all kinds, including those published by the Company, has been in decline as an increasing amount of content has become available electronically at little or no cost to readers. In an attempt to combat this decline, the Company began looking for new sources of revenue growth and market space for its enthusiast brands. On or around 2008, the Company decided to shift its focus to e-commerce upon the belief that its enthusiast customers would purchase items from the Company related to their passions besides periodicals, such as craft and writing supplies. With its large library of niche information for its hobbyist customers, the Company believed it was well-positioned to make this transition.

What’s interesting is that, rather than monetize their “Communities” directly, the company sought to pursue an expensive merchandising strategy that required a significant amount of upfront investment. The company writes:

In connection with this new approach, the Company took on various additional obligations across its distribution channel, including purchasing the merchandise it would sell online, storing merchandise in leased warehouses, marketing merchandise on websites, fulfilling orders, and responding to customer service inquiries. Unfortunately, these additional obligations came at a tremendous cost to the Company, both in terms of monetary loss and the deterioration of customer relationships.

In other words, rather than compete as a media company that would serve (and monetize) its various niche audiences, the company apparently sought to use its media as a marketing arm for physical products — in essence, competing with the likes of Amazon Inc. ($AMZN)Walmart Inc. ($WMT) and other specialty hobbyist retailers. As if that wasn’t challenging enough, the company’s execution apparently sucked sh*t:

As a consequence of this shift in strategic approach, the Company was required to enter into various technology contracts which increased capital expenditures by 385% in 2017 alone. And, because the Company had ventured into fields in which it lacked expertise, it soon realized that the technology used on the Company’s websites was unnecessary or flawed, resulting in customer service issues that significantly damaged the Company’s reputation and relationship with its customers. By example, in 2018 in the crafts business alone, the Company spent approximately $6 million on its efforts to sell craft ecommerce and generated only $3 million in revenue.

Last we checked, spending $2 to make $1 isn’t good business. Well, unless you’re Uber or Lyft, we suppose. But those are transformative visionary companies (or so the narrative goes). Here? We’re talking about arts and crafts. 🙈

As if that cash burn wasn’t bad enough, in 2013 the company entered into a $135mm secured credit facility ($125mm TL; $10mm RCF) to fund its operations. By 2017, the company owed $99mm in debt and was in default of certain covenants (remember those?) under the facility. Luckily, it had some forgiving lenders. And by “forgiving,” we mean lenders who were willing to equitize the loan, reduce the company’s indebtedness by $100mm and issue a new amended and restated credit facility of $35mm (as well as provide a new $15mm tranche) — all in exchange for a mere 97% of the company’s equity (and some nice fees, we imagine). Savage!

As if the spend $2 to make $1 thing wasn’t enough to exhibit that management wasn’t, uh, “managing” so well, there’s this:

The Company utilized its improved liquidity position as a result of the Restructuring to continue its efforts to evolve from a legacy print business to an e-commerce business. However, largely as a result of mismanagement, the Company exhausted the entire $15 million of the new funding it received in the six (6) months following the Restructuring. In those six (6) months, the Company’s management dramatically increased spending on technology contracts, merchandise to store in warehouses, and staffing while the Company was faltering and revenue was declining. The Company’s decision to focus on e-commerce and deemphasize print and digital publishing accelerated the decline of the Company’s publishing business, and the resources spent on technology hurt the Company’s viability because the technology was flawed and customers often had issues with the websites.

What happened next? Well, management paid themselves millions upon millions of dollars in bonuses! Ok, no, just kidding but ask yourself: would you have really been surprised if that were so?? Instead, apparently the board of directors awoke from a long slumber and decided to FINALLY sh*tcan the management team. The board brought in a new CEO and hired FTI Consulting Inc. ($FTI) to help right the ship. They quickly discovered that the e-commerce channel was sinking the business (PETITION Note: this is precisely why many small startup businesses build their e-commerce platforms on top of the likes of Shopify Inc. ($SHOP) — to avoid precisely the e-commerce startup costs and issues F+W experienced here.).

Here is where you insert the standard operational restructuring playbook. Someone built out a 13-week cash flow model and it showed that the company was bleeding cash. Therefore, people got fired and certain discreet assets got sold. The lenders, of course, took some of those sale proceeds to setoff some of their debt. The company then refreshed the 13-week cash flow model and…lo and behold…it was still effed! Why? It still carried product inventory and had to pay for storage, it was paying for more lease space than it needed, and its migration of e-commerce to partnerships with third party vendors, while profitable, didn’t have meaningful enough margin (particularly after factoring in marketing expenses). So:

Realizing that periodic asset sales are not a long-term operational solution, the Company’s board requested alternative strategies for 2019, ranging from a full liquidation to selling a significant portion of the Company’s assets to help stabilize operations. Ultimately, the Company determined that the only viable alternative, which would allow it to survive while providing relief from its obligations, was to pursue a sale transaction within the context of a chapter 11 filing.

Greenhill & Co. Inc. ($GHL) is advising the company with respect to a sale of the book publishing business. FTI is handling the sale of the company’s Communities business. The company hopes both processes are consummated by the end of May and middle of June, respectively. The company secured an $8mm DIP credit facility to fund the cases.

And that DIP ended up being the source of some controversy at the First Day hearing. Yesterday morning, Judge Gross reportedly rebuked the lenders for seeking a 20% closing fee on the $8mm DIP; he suggested 10%. Per The Wall Street Journal:

Judge Gross said he didn’t want to play “chicken” with the lenders, but that he didn’t believe they should use the bankruptcy financing to recoup what they were owed before the chapter 11 filing.

Wow. Finally some activist push-back on excessive bankruptcy fees! Better late than never.

  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware (Judge Gross)

  • Capital Structure:

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor LLP (Pauline Morgan, Kenneth Enos, Elizabeth Justison, Allison Mielke, Jared Kochenash)

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

    • Investment Banker: Greenhill & Co.

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

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Prepetition & Postpetition DIP Agent ($8mm): Fortress Credit Co. LLC)

      • Legal: Halperin Battaglia Benzija LLP (Alan Halperin, Walter Benzija, Julie Goldberg) & (local) Bielili & Klauder LLC (David Klauder)

    • DIP Lenders: Drawbridge Special Opportunities Fund LP, New F&W Media M Holdings Corp LLC, PBB Investments III LLC, CION Investment Corporation, Ellington Management Group, or affiliates thereof to be determined.

    • Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors (LSC Communications US, Inc. and Palm Coast Data LLC)

      • Legal: Arent Fox LLP (Robert Hirsh, Jordana Renert) & (local) Morris James LLP (Eric Monzo, Brya Keilson)

      • Financial Advisor: B. Riley FBR (Adam Rosen)

Updated 4/23

😷New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - Trident Holding Company LLC😷

Trident Holding Company LLC

February 10, 2019

It looks like all of those 2018 predictions about healthcare-related distress were off by a year. We’re merely in mid-February and already there has been a full slate of healthcare bankruptcy filings. Here, Trident Holding Company LLC, a Maryland-based provider of bedside diagnostic and other services (i.e., x-ray, ultrasound, cardiac monitoring) filed for bankruptcy in the Southern District of New York. What’s interesting about the filing is that it is particularly light on detail: it includes the standard description of the capital structure and recent efforts to restructure, but there is a dearth of information about the history of the company and its financial performance. There is, however, a restructuring support agreement with the company’s priority first lien lenders.

Here’s a quick look at the company’s capital structure which is a large factor driving the company into bankruptcy:

Source: First Day Declaration

Source: First Day Declaration

As you can see, the company has a considerable amount of debt. The above-reflected “Priority First Lien Facility” is a fairly recent development, having been put in place as recently as April 2018. That facility, provided by Silver Point, includes a $27.1mm prepayment fee triggered upon the filing of the bankruptcy case. That’s certain to be a point of interest to an Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors. It also contributed to an onerous amount of debt service. Per the company:

In the midst of market and competitive challenges, Trident has significant debt service obligations. Over the course of 2018, Trident paid approximately $26,185,667.75 in cash interest on the Secured Credit Facilities. On January 31, 2019, the Company missed an interest payment of $9,187,477.07 on the Secured Credit Facilities, resulting in an Event of Default on February 8, 2019 after the cure period expired.

But, wait. There’s more. The recent uptick in distressed healthcare activity is beginning to aggregate and create a trickle-down bankruptcies-creating-bankruptcies effect:

Moreover, a number of recent customer bankruptcies – including those of Senior Care Centers, LLC, 4 West Holdings, Inc., and Promise Healthcare Group, LLC – have exacerbated the Company’s liquidity shortfall by limiting the collectability of amounts owed from these entities. A number of other customers who have not yet filed bankruptcy cases are generally not paying the Debtors within contractual terms due to their own liquidity problems. As a result of these collection difficulties and challenges with the new billing system in the Sparks Glencoe billing center, the Debtors recorded $27.8 million of extraordinary bad debt expense in 2018 and $12.7 million in 2017.

Ouch. Not to state the obvious, but if the start of 2019 is any indication, this is only going to get worse. The company estimates a net operating cash loss of $9.1mm in the first 30 days of the case.

Given the company’s struggles and burdensome capital structure, the company has been engaging its lenders for well over a year. In the end, however, it couldn’t work out an out-of-court resolution. Instead, the company filed its bankruptcy with a “restructuring support agreement” with Silver Point which, on account of its priority first lien holdings, is positioned well to drive this bus. And by “drive this bus,” we mean jam the junior creditors. Per the RSA, Silver Point will provide a $50mm DIP and drive the company hard towards a business plan and plan of reorganization. Indeed, the business plan is due within 36 days and a disclosure statement is due within a week thereafter. Meanwhile, the RSA as currently contemplated, gives Silver Point $105mm of take-back term loan paper and 100% of the equity of the company (subject to dilution). The first lien holders have a nice blank in the RSA next to their recovery amount and that recovery is predicated upon…wait for it…

…a “death trap.” That is, if they accept the plan they’ll currently get “ [●]%” but if they reject the plan they’ll get a big fat donut. Likewise, the second lien holders. General unsecured claimants would get a pro rata interest in a whopping $100k. Or the equivalent of what Skadden will bill in roughly, call it, 3 days of work??

The business plan, meanwhile, ought to be interesting. By all appearances, the company is in the midst of a massive strategic pivot. In addition to undertaking a barrage of operational fixes “…such as optimized pricing, measures to improve revenue cycle management by increasing collection rates, rationalizing certain services, reducing labor costs, better managing vendor spend, and reducing insurance costs,” the company intends to focus on its core business and exit unprofitable markets. While it retreats in certain respects, it also intends to expand in others: for instance, the company intends to “expand home health services to respond to the shifting of patients from [skilled nursing facilities] into home care.” Per the company:

Toward this end, Trident conducted successful home health care pilot programs in 2018 in two markets to optimize its Care at Home business model with radiology technicians dedicated to servicing home health patients. Trident hopes to expand this business model to an additional seven markets in 2019.

Like we said, a pivot. Which begs the question “why?” In addition to the debt, the company noted several other factors that drove it into bankruptcy. Chief among them? The rise of home health care. More from the company:

Trident has suffered ripple effects from the distress faced by skilled nursing facilities (“SNF”), which are its primary direct customers. SNF occupancy rates have declined to a multi-year low as a result of structural and reimbursement changes not yet offset by demographic trends. These structural changes include, among other things, patient migration to home health care. The decline in SNF occupancy rates has led to reduced demand for Trident’s services. At the same time, Trident has only had limited success reducing costs in response to lower volumes, as volume declines are driven by lower utilization per facility rather than a reduction in the number of facilities served.

This is a trend worth continued watching. Who else — like Trident — will be affected by this?

Large general unsecured creditors of the business include Grosvenor Capital Management, Jones Day (to the tune of $2.3mm…yikes), Konica Minolta Healthcare Americas Inc., McKesson ($MCK)(again!!…rough couple of weeks at McKesson), Quest Diagnostics Inc. ($DGX), Cardinal Health Inc. ($CAH) and others. They must be really jacked up about that pro rata $100k!!

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

  • Capital Structure: see above.

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP (Paul Leake, Jason Kestecher, James Mazza Jr., Justin Winerman)

    • Independent Director: Alexander D. Greene

    • Financial Advisor: Ankura Consulting (Russell Perry, Ben Jones)

    • Investment Banker: PJT Partners LP (Mark Buschmann, Josh Abramson, Willie Evarts, Meera Satiani, Elsa Zhang)

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

  • Other Professionals:

    • Priority First Lien Admin Agent: SPCP Group LLC/Silver Point Finance LLC

      • Legal: Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison LLP (Alan Kornberg, Robert Britton, Lewis Clayton, Aidan Synnott, Christman Rice, Michael Turkel)

      • Financial Advisor: Houlihan Lokey LP

    • First Lien Agent: Cortland Capital Market Services LLC

      • Legal: White & Case LLP (Thomas Lauria, Erin Rosenberg, Jason Zakia, Harrison Denman, John Ramirez)

    • Ad Hoc Group of First Lien Lenders

      • Legal: Kirkland & Ellis LLP (Patrick Nash)

      • Financial Advisor: Greenhill & Co. Inc.

    • Second Lien Agent: Ares Capital Corporation

    • Ad Hoc Group of Second Lien Lenders

      • Legal: Latham & Watkins (Richard Levy, James Ktsanes)

    • Large Creditor: McKesson Medical-Surgical Inc.

      • Legal: Buchalter P.C. (Jeffrey Garfinkle)

    • Large Creditor: Quest Diagnostics

      • Legal: Morris James LLP (Brett Fallon)

    • Equity Sponsor: Revelstoke Capital Partners

      • Legal: Winston & Strawn LLP (Carey Schreiber, Carrie Hardman)

    • Equity Sponsor: Welltower Inc.

      • Legal: Sidley Austin LLP (Andrew Propps, Bojan Guzina)

    • Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors

      • Legal: Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP (David Posner, Gianfranco Finizio, Kelly Moynihan)

      • Financial Advisor: AlixPartners LLP (David MacGreevey)



New Chapter 11 Filing - Goodman Networks Inc.

Goodman Networks Inc.

  • 3/13/17 Recap: Frisco Texas-based minority-business-enterprise (MBE) and wireless network and satellite television systems servicer filed a prepackaged chapter 11 case to de-lever its balance sheet by $212.5mm. This is a story, in many respects, about a concentrated revenue base and too much debt. 83% of the company's revenue is attributable to AT&T and "substantial completion of AT&T's 4G network build-out has diminished the associated demand for Goodman's services." Consequently, the company wasn't generating enough revenue to sustain its capital structure. Now, holders of the secured debt will receive cash, $112.5mm of new debt, PIK preferred stock and common stock. To preserve the MBE status, current equity will get PIK preferred stock and 50.1% of the common stock. Query whether that level of retained equity is a lesson to those who invested in this MBE structure. 
  • Jurisdiction: S.D. of Texas
  • Capital Structure: $25mm RCF (MidCap Financial Trust), $325mm '18 12.125 % secured notes (Wells Fargo)
  • Company Professionals: 
    • Legal: Kirkland & Ellis LLP (Patrick Nash, Joshua Sussberg, Joseph Graham, Laura Krucks, Alexander Cross) & (local) Haynes & Boone LLP (Stephen Pezanosky, Kelli Norfleet)
    • Financial Advisor: FTI Consulting (John Debus)
    • Investment Banker: June Creek Interests (Andy Jent)
    • Claims Agent: KCC (*click on company name for docket)
  • Other Parties in Interest:
    • Ad Hoc Committee of Second Lien Bondholders (Alden Global, AllianceBernstein Global LP, J.P. Morgan Investment Management Inc., J.P Morgan Chase Bank N.A., Phoenix Investment Advisor LLC, Principal Global Investors LLC, Invesco Senior Secured Management Inc., Sound Point Capital Management LP)
      • Legal: Akin Gump (Michael Stamer, Charles Gibbs, Meredith Lahaie, Sara Brauner)
      • Financial: Greenhill & Co. Inc.
  • Wells Fargo
    • Legal: Reed Smith LLP (Eric Schaffer, Lloyd Lim, Maura Nuno)
  • AT&T Corp.
    • Legal: Sidley Austin LLP (Brian Lohan)

Updated 3/28/17