⛽️New Chapter 11 Filing - KP Engineering LP⛽️

KP Engineering LP

August 23, 2019

Texas-based KP Engineering LP and an affiliated debtor filed for bankruptcy in the Southern District of Texas. The debtors are “in the business of designing and executing customized engineering, procurement, and construction (“EPC”) projects for the refining, midstream, and chemical industries.” Said another way, the debtors contract to serve as a general contractor for their clients, functioning as project manager overseeing subcontractors during the development and completion of facilities for clients. One thing about this kind of business: particularly when you have over $68mm of debt, your contracts have to be economical and your clients have to like you. It seems that the debtors fail on both counts.

In January 2017, the debtors entered into an EPC contract with Targa Pipeline Mid-Continent WestTex LLC (a subsidiary of Targa Resources Corp. ($TRGP)) to design, procure equipment for and construct a 200mm cubic feet per day gas cryogenic processing plant. The plant is complete and now operational. Unfortunately for the debtors, however, they “sustained a significant economic loss.” Solid job, guys! At least it helped them get additional work from Targa…

…that Targa then fired them from and are now suing over.

In August 2017, the debtors entered into an EPC for a second plant with Targa but prior to full completion, Targa allegedly stopped paying which had the cascading effect of limiting the debtors’ ability to pay its subcontractors. Earlier this month, Targa terminated the EPC agreement and booted the debtors from the job site. Now subcontractors and Targa are suing the debtors for, among other things, lack of payment. The debtors indicate that the litigation forced the debtors into bankruptcy.

So, what now? It’s unclear. The debtors have a $4mm DIP commitment but the papers don’t make it clear where the debtors intend to go from here. Curiously, the debtors provide this hanging explanation for why they’re in chapter 11:

The Debtors face a number of risks to their business. The landscape surrounding the EPC contractor market is competitive, highly technical, and fast-changing. The Debtors face risks related to a changing environment in which technological advancement is altering their core business. An inability to innovate could be detrimental to the future of the Debtors. However, the Debtors’ present innovation has been the cornerstone of its success to date.

We get some of this. We suppose the first plant was uneconomical because fierce competition affected bidding. But what is the rest of this trying to say? What tech advancement are the debtors referring to? What innovation? Are there competitors founded by Jeff Bezos? We mean, WTF? It’s almost like management here forgot for a second that the debtors aren’t a public company and, therefore, there’s no need to throw out buzzwords.

Whatever. Good luck with bankruptcy, you crazy cowboys.

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

  • Capital Structure: $68mm of total debt

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP (Jennifer Wuebker, Greg Hesse, Edward Clarkson, Justin Paget) & Okin Adams LLP (Christopher Adams)

    • Financial Advisor/CRO: Claro Group LLC (Douglas Brickley)

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

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Prepetition Lender: Texas Capital Bank

    • DIP Lender ($4mm): BTS Enterprises Inc.

🏠New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - Stearns Holdings LLC🏠

Stearns Holdings LLC

July 9, 2019

Hallelujah! Something is going on out in the world aside from the #retailapocalypse and distressed oil and gas. Here, Blackstone Capital Partners-owned Stearns Holdings LLC and six affiliated debtors (the “debtors”) have filed for bankruptcy in the Southern District of New York because of…drumroll please…rising interest rates. That’s right: the FED has claimed a victim. Stephen Moore and Judy Shelton must be smirking their faces off.

The debtors are a private mortgage company in the business of originating residential mortgages; it is the 20th largest mortgage lender in the US, operating in 50 states. We’ll delve more deeply into the business model down below but, for now, suffice it to say that the debtors generate revenue by producing mortgages and then selling them to government-sponsored enterprises such as Ginnie Mae, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. There are a ton of steps that have to happen between origination and sale and, suffice it further to say, that requires a f*ck ton of debt to get done. That said, on a basic level, to originate loans, the debtors require favorable interest rates which, in turn, lower the cost of residential home purchases, and increases market demand and sales activity for homes.

Except, there’s been an itsy bitsy teeny weeny problem. Interest rates have been going up. Per the debtors:

The mortgage origination business is significantly impacted by interest rate trends. In mid-2016, the 10-year Treasury was 1.60%. Following the U.S. presidential election, it rose to a range of 2.30% to 2.45% and maintained that range throughout 2017. The 10-year Treasury rate increased to over 3.0% for most of 2018. The rise in rates during this time period reduced the overall size of the mortgage market, increasing competition and significantly reducing market revenues.

Said another way: mortgage rates are pegged off the 10-year treasury rate and rising rates chilled the housing market. With buyers running for the hills, originators can’t pump supply. Hence, diminished revenues. And diminished revenues are particularly problematic when you have high-interest debt with an impending maturity.

This is where the business model really comes into play. Here’s a diagram illustrating how this all works:

Source: First Day Declaration, PETITION

Source: First Day Declaration, PETITION

The warehouse lenders got nervous when, over the course of 2017/18, mortgage volumes declined while, at the same time, the debtors were obligated to pay down the senior secured notes; they, rightfully, grew concerned that the debtors wouldn’t have the liquidity available to repurchase the originated mortgages within the 30 day window. Consequently, the debtors engaged PIMCO in discussions about the pending maturity of the notes. Over a period of several months, however, those discussions proved unproductive.

The warehouse lenders grew skittish. Per the debtors:

Warehouse lenders began reducing advance rates, increasing required collateral accounts and increasing liquidity covenants, further contracting available working capital necessary to operate the business. Eventually, two of the warehouse lenders advised the Debtors that they were prepared to wind down their respective warehouse facilities unless the Debtors and PIMCO agreed in principle to a deleveraging transaction by June 7, 2019. That did not happen. As a result, one warehouse lender terminated its facility effective June 28, 2019 and a second advised that it will no longer allow new advances effective July 15, 2019. The Debtors feared that these actions would trigger other warehouse lenders to take similar actions, significantly impacting the Debtors’ ability to fund loans and restricting liquidity, thereby jeopardizing the Debtors’ ability to operate their franchise as a going concern.

On the precipice of disaster, the debtors offered the keys to PIMCO in exchange for forgiveness of the debt. PIMCO rebuffed them. Subsequently, Blackstone made PIMCO a cents-on-the-dollar cash-out offer on the basis that the offer would exceed liquidation value of the enterprise and PIMCO again declined. At this point there’s a lot of he said, she said about what was offered and reneged upon to the point that it ought to suffice merely to say that the debtors, Blackstone and PIMCO probably aren’t all sharing a Hamptons house together this summer.

So, where did they end up?

The debtors have filed a plan of reorganization with Blackstone as plan sponsor. Blackstone agreed to inject $60mm of new equity into the business — all of which, notably, is earmarked to cash out the notes in their entirety (clearly at at discount — read: below par — for PIMCO and the other noteholders). The debtors also propose to subject Blackstone’s offer to a 30-day competitive bidding process, provided that (a) bids are in cash (credit bids will not be allowed) and (b) all obligations to the GSEs and other investors are honored.

To fund the cases the debtors have obtained a commitment from Blackstone for $35mm in DIP financing. They also sourced proposals from warehouse lenders prepetition and have obtained commitments for $1.5b in warehouse financing from Barclays Bank PLC and Nomura Corporate Funding Americas LLC (guaranteed, on a limited basis, by Blackstone). In other words, Blackstone is ALL IN here: with the DIP financing, the limited guarantee and the equity check, they are placing a stake in the ground when it comes to mortgage origination.

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

  • Capital Structure: $184mm 9.375% ‘20 senior secured notes (Wilmington Trust Association NA)

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP (Jay Goffman, Mark McDermott, Shana Elberg, Evan Hill, Edward Mahaney-Walter)

    • Financial Advisor: Alvarez & Marsal LLC (Robert Campagna)

    • Investment Banker: PJT Partners LP (Jamie O’Connell)

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

    • Board of Directors: David Schneider, William Cary, Glenn Stearns, Nadim El Gabbani, Chinh Chu, Jason Roswig, Chris Mitchell

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Indenture Trustee: Wilmington Trust Association NA

      • Legal: Alston & Bird LLP (Jason Solomon)

    • Major Noteholder: Pacific Investment Management Company LLC

      • Legal: Hogan Lovells US LLP (Bennett Spiegel, Stacey Rosenberg)

    • Blackstone Capital Partners VI-NQ/NF LP

      • Legal: Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP (Elisha Graff, Jamie Fell)

    • Barclays Bank PC

      • Legal: Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP (Peter Partee Sr., Brian Clarke)

    • Nomura Corporate Funding Americas LLC

      • Legal: Milbank LLP (Mark Shinderman, Lauren Doyle) & Alston & Bird LLP (Karen Gelernt)

    • Fannie Mae

      • Legal: O’Melveny & Myers LLP (Stephen Warren)

    • Freddie Mac

      • Legal: McKool Smith PC (Paul Moak)

7/9/19 #30

🍤New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - RUI Holding Corp.🍤

RUI Holding Corp.

July 7, 2019

Back in October 2016, in the context of Sun Capital Partners’-owned Garden Fresh Restaurant Intermediate Holdings bankruptcy filing, we asked, “Are Progressives Bankrupting Restaurants?” We wrote:

Morberg's explanation for the bankruptcy went a step farther. He noted that cash flow pressures also came from increased workers' compensation costs, annual rent increases, minimum wage increases in the markets they serve, and higher health benefit costs -- a damning assessment of popular progressive initiatives making the rounds this campaign season. And certainly not a minor statement to make in a sworn declaration.  

It's unlikely that this is the last restaurant bankruptcy in the near term. Will the next one also delineate progressive policies as a root cause? It seems likely.

There have been a plethora of restaurant-related bankruptcy filings between then and now and many of them have raised rising costs as an issue. Perhaps none as blatantly, however, than Sun Capital Partners’ portfolio companies: enter RUI Holding Corp and its affiliated debtors, Restaurants Unlimited Inc. and Restaurants Unlimited Texas Inc. (the “Debtors”).

On July 7, 2019, the Sun Capital-owned Debtors filed for bankruptcy in the District of Delaware. The Debtors opened their first restaurant in 1969 and now own and operate 35 restaurants in 6 states under, among 14 others, the trade names “Clinkerdagger,” “Cutters Crabhouse,” “Maggie Bluffs,” and ”Horatio’s.” The Debtors note that each of their restaurants offer “fine dining” and “polished casual dining” “situated in iconic, scenic, high-traffic locations.” Who knew that if you want something to scream “iconic” you ought to name it Clinkerdagger?

As we’ve said time and time again, casual dining is a hot mess. Per the Debtors:

…the Company's revenue for the twelve months ended May 31, 2019, was $176 million, down 1% from the prior year. As of the Petition Date, the Company has approximately $150,000 of cash on hand and lacks access to needed liquidity other than cash flow from operations.

The Debtors have over $37.7mm of secured debt; they also owe trade $7.6mm. There are over 2000 employees, of which 168 are full-time and 50 are salaried at corporate HQ in Seattle Washington.

But enough about that stuff. Back to those damn progressives. Per the Debtors:

Over the past several years, certain changes to wage laws in the Debtors’ primary geographic locations coupled with two expansion decisions that utilized cash flow from operations resulted in increased use of cash flow from operations and borrowings and restricted liquidity. These challenges coupled with additional state-mandates that will result in an additional extraordinary wage hike in FYE 2020 in certain locations before all further wage increases are subject to increases in the CPI and the general national trend away from casual dining, led to the need to commence these chapter 11 cases.

They continue:

Over the past three years, the Company’s profitability has been significantly impacted by progressive wage laws along the Pacific coast that have increased the minimum wage as follows: Seattle $9.47 to $16.00 (69%), San Francisco $11.05 to $15.59 (41%), Portland $9.25 to $12.50 (35%). As a large employer in the Seattle metro market, for instance, the Company was one of the first in the market to be forced to institute wage hikes. Currently in Seattle, smaller employers enjoy a statutory advantage of a lesser minimum wage of $1 or more through 2021, which is not available to the Company. The result of these cumulative increases was to increase the Company’s annual wage expenses by an aggregate of $10.6 million through fiscal year end 2019.

For a second we had to do a double-take just to make sure Andy Puzder wasn’t the first day declarant!

Interestingly, despite these seemingly OBVIOUS wage headwinds and the EVEN-MORE-OBVIOUS-CASUAL-DINING-CHALLENGES, these genius operators nevertheless concluded that it was prudent to open two new restaurants in Washington state “in the second half of 2017” — at a cost of $10mm. Sadly, “[s]ince opening, the anticipated foot traffic and projected sales at these locations did not materialize….” Well, hot damn! Who could’ve seen that coming?? Coupled with the wage increases, this was the death knell. PETITION Note: this really sounds like two parents on the verge of divorce deciding a baby would make everything better. Sure, macro headwinds abound but let’s siphon off cash and open up two new restaurants!! GREAT IDEA HEFE!!

The Debtors have therefore been in a perpetual state of marketing since 2016. The Debtors’ investment banker contacted 170 parties but not one entity expressed interested past basic due diligence. Clearly, they didn’t quite like what they saw. PETITION Note: we wonder whether they saw that Sun Capital extracted millions of dollars by way of dividends, leaving a carcass behind?? There’s no mention of this in the bankruptcy papers but….well…inquiring minds want to know.

The purpose of the filing is to provide a breathing spell, gain the Debtors access to liquidity (by way of a $10mm new money DIP financing commitment from their prepetition lender), and pursue a sale of the business. To prevent additional unnecessary cash burn in the meantime, the Debtors closed six unprofitable restaurants: Palomino in Indianapolis, Indiana, and Bellevue, Washington; Prime Rib & Chocolate Cake in Portland, OR; Henry’s Tavern in Plano, Texas; Stanford’s in Walnut Creek, California; and Portland Seafood Co. in Tigard, Oregon. PETITION Note: curiously, only one of these closures was in an “iconic” location that also has the progressive rate increases the Debtors took pains to highlight.

It’s worth revisiting the press release at the time of the 2007 acquisition:

Steve Stoddard, President and CEO, Restaurants Unlimited, Inc., said, “This transaction represents an exciting partnership with a skilled and experienced restauranteur that has the requisite financial resources and deep operating experience to be instrumental in strengthening our brands and building out our footprint in suitable locations.”

Riiiiight. Stoddard’s tenure with Sun Capital lasted all of two years. His successor, Norman Abdallah, lasted a year before being replaced by Scott Smith. Smith lasted a year before being replaced by Chris Harter. Harter lasted four years and was replaced by now-CEO, Jim Eschweiler.

A growing track record of bankruptcy and a revolving door in the C-suite. One might think this may be a cautionary tale to those operators in the market for PE partners.*

*Speaking of geniuses, it’s almost as if Sun Capital Partners thinks that things disappear on the internets. Google “sun capital restaurant unlimited” and you’ll see this:

Source: Google

Source: Google

Click through the first link and this is what you get:

Source: Sun Capital Partners

Source: Sun Capital Partners

HAHAHAHAHA. WHOOPS INDEED!

THEY DELETED THAT SH*T FASTER THAN WE COULD SAY “DIVIDEND RECAP.”


  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware (Judge Silverstein)

  • Capital Structure: $37.7mm (plus $1.7mm of accrued and unpaid interest)(Fortress Credit Co LLC)

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Klehr Harrison Harvey Branzburg LLP (Domenic Pacitti, Michael Yurkewicz, Sally Veghte)

    • Financial Advisor: Carl Marks Advisory Group LLC (David Bagley)

    • Investment Banker: Configure Partners LLC

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

    • Board of Directors: Stephen Cella, Jonathan Jackson, James Eschweiler

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • PE Sponsor: Sun Capital Partners Inc.

    • Prepetition Agent & DIP Agent ($10mm): Fortress Credit Co LLC

      • Legal: Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP (Tyler Brown, Justin Paget) & Gellert Scali Busenkell & Brown (Michael Busenkell)

      • Financial Advisor: Grant Thornton LLP

    • DIP Lenders: Drawbridge Special Opportunities Fund LP, NXT Capital LLC

      • Legal: Goldberg Kohn Ltd. (Randall Klein, Prisca Kim)

Updated 7/7/19

⛽️New Chapter 11 Filing - Weatherford International Plc⛽️

Weatherford International Plc

July 1, 2019

There hasn’t been a MASSIVE bankruptcy filing in a while. Windstream Holdings Inc. filed back in late February and while there’s been plenty of chapter 11 activity since, there hasn’t been anything quite as large in the last several months. There is now. Enter Weatherford International Plc.

Late on Friday, Weatherford, an Irish public limited company, filed an 8-K with the SEC with a proposed plan of reorganization and disclosure statement; it and several affiliated debtors intend to file prepackaged chapter 11 cases in the Southern District of Texas on Monday, July 1.* The timing is appropriate: nothing screams “Independence!” like a massive chapter 11 bankruptcy filing that has the effect of eliminating six billion tyrannical dollars from the balance sheet. YEE HAW. G-D BLESS AMERICA.

Here is a snapshot of Weatherford’s pre and post-bankruptcy capital structure:**

Screen Shot 2019-06-29 at 5.15.48 AM.png

And all of the action is at the pre-petition notes level of the cap stack.*** The holders of the $7.4b of pre-petition notes**** will walk away with 99% of the equity in the reorganized company (subject to various means of dilution) — a 63% recovery based on the offered valuation of the company. They will also receive up to $1.25b of new tranche b senior unsecured convertible notes and the right to participate in new tranche a senior unsecured notes. Every other class — but for existing equity (which will get wiped out) — will ride through as if this shabang ain’t even happening.

You must be wondering: how in bloody hell does a company rack up over $8b of debt? $8 BILLION!! That’s just oil and gas, darling.

Weatherford is a provider of equipment and services used in the drilling, evaluation, completion, production, and intervention of oil and natural gas wells; it operates in over 80 countries worldwide and has service and sales locations in nearly all of the oil and natural gas producing regions in the world. It operates in a highly commoditized industry and so the company dedicates millions each year to research and development in an effort to separate itself from the pack and provide value to end users that is unmatched in the market.

Which, by its own admission, it fails to do. All of that R&D notwithstanding, Weatherford nevertheless provide a commoditized product in a tough macro environment. And while all of that debt should have helped position the company to crush less-capitalized competitors, it ultimately proved to be an albatross.

To service this debt, the debtors require stability in the oil and natural gas markets at prices that catalyze E&P companies to drill, baby, drill. An oil field services company like Weatherford can only make money if there are oil operations to service. With oil and natural gas trading at low levels for years…well, you see the issue. Per the company’s 8-K:

The sustained drop in oil and gas prices has impacted companies throughout the oil and gas industry including Weatherford and the majority of its customers. As spending on exploration, development, and production of oil and natural gas has decreased so has demand for Weatherford’s services and products. The decline in spending by oil and gas companies has had a significant effect on the Debtors’ financial health. To illustrate, on a consolidated basis, the Company’s cash flows from operating activities have been negative $304 million, negative $388 million, and negative $242 million in fiscal years 2016, 2017, and 2018, respectively.

While not quite at Uber Inc. ($UBER) levels, this company is practically lighting money on fire.

Relating to the competition:

The oilfield services and equipment industry is saturated with competition from various companies that operate in the same sector and the same regions of the world as Weatherford. The primary competitive factors include safety, performance, price, quality, and breadth of products and services. Weatherford also faces competition from regional suppliers in some of the sectors in which it operates as these suppliers offer limited equipment and services that are specifically tailored to the relevant local market. Some of the Company’s competitors have better financial and technical resources, which allows them to pursue more vigorous marketing and expansion activities. This heavily competitive market has impacted the Company’s ability to maintain its market share and defend or maintain the pricing for its products and services. Heavy competition has also impacted the Company’s ability to negotiate contract terms with its customers and suppliers, which has resulted in the Company accepting suboptimal terms.

The squeeze is on, ladies and gentlemen. As E&P companies look to cut costs in the face of increased pressure from investors to lean out, they are putting companies like Weatherford through the ringer. You bet your a$$ they’re getting “suboptimal terms.”

Compounding matters, of course, is the government:

…operations are also subject to extensive federal, international, state and local laws and regulations relating to environmental production, waste management and cleanup of hazardous materials, and other matters. Compliance with the various requirements imposed by these laws and regulations has also resulted in increased capital expenditures as companies in these sectors have had to make significant investments to ensure compliance.

Well GOSH DARN. If only Weatherford had unfettered ability to pollute the hell out of the countryside and our waters all of that debt could be paid off at par plus. Those gosh darn government hacks.

All of these factors combined to strain the debtors’ liquidity “for an extended period of time.” Accordingly, the company went into cost cutting mode.***** In Q4 ‘17, it eliminated 900 jobs to the tune of $114mm in annualized savings. In 2018, the company — with the assistance of McKinsey Restructuring & Transformation Services — continued with workforce reductions, facility consolidations, and other measures.

Yet, the squeeze continued. Per the company:

Despite implementing these efficient and strategic initiatives, the Company continued to face declining revenue and cash flow, as well as market challenges. Due to the Company’s increasingly tight liquidity, its key vendors began requiring shortened payment terms, including pay on delivery or prepayment for all supplies purchased by the Company. This contributed to additional pressure on liquidity that the Company could not sustain. Additionally, as discussed above, the highly competitive market that the Company operates in posed challenges for the Company in winning new bids, resulting in decreased revenue.

Weatherford was therefore forced to divest assets. YOU KNOW YOU’RE LEVERAGED TO THE HILT WHEN YOU SELL NEARLY $1B OF ASSETS AND IT BARELY MOVES THE NEEDLE. Sale proceeds were coming in just to go back out for debt service. The company had a leverage ratio of OVER 10X EBITDA. THIS IS AN UNMITIGATED F*CKING DISASTER. What’s actually astonishing is that the company notes that it retained Lazard Freres & Co LLC ($LZ) and Latham & Watkins LLP in December ‘18 and April ‘19, respectively. Taking them at their word (and we could have sworn Latham was in there much earlier than April), WHAT THE HELL WERE THEY WAITING FOR$600mm of annual interest payments, pending maturities, untenable leverage relative to competitors, AND squeezing vendors and the company only got its sh*t together in April? They couldn’t possibly have been THAT inept. Ah, who are we kidding? We’re talking about bankruptcy here.

Now, though, the company has a deal****** and so the upshot is that it is well-positioned for a quick trip into bankruptcy. Indeed, it seeks plan confirmation no later than September 15, 2019 — a nice not-as-speedy-as-other-recent-prepacks-but-speedy prepack. To finance the cases, the company will seek approval of up to $750mm DIP revolver and a $1b DIP term loan. And it is optimistic that it will be well-positioned for the future:

Screen Shot 2019-06-29 at 10.53.10 AM.png

We’ll see.

*The company will also push through Bermuda and Irish proceedings.

**JPMorgan Chase Bank NA ($JPM) is the agent on the prepetition term loan, the prepetition revolving credit agreement, and the A&R facility.

***Only three entities out of an organizational structure of 255 or so direct and indirect subsidiaries are on the hook for the prepetition notes, thereby limiting the number of actual debtor entities that will be subsumed by these cases.

****The pre-petition notes consist of 13 — yes, THIRTEEN — different issuances of notes with interest rates ranging from 4.5% to 9.875% and maturities ranging from 2020 through 2042.

*****Well, as it relates to certain peeps, of course. The debtors’ non-debtor affiliates still had money to make a May 2019 payout to participants in the Executive Bonus Plan.

******The ad hoc noteholder committee is represented by Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP and Evercore Group LLC ($EVR).

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

  • Capital Structure:

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Latham & Watkins LLP (George Davis, Keith Simon, David Hammerman, Annemarie Reilly, Lisa Lansio) & (local) Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP (Timothy Davidson, Ashley Harper)

    • Financial Advisor: Alvarez & Marsal LLC

    • Investment Banker: Lazard Freres & Co LLC

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

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Ad Hoc Prepetition Noteholder Committee

      • Legal: Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP (Michael Stamer, Meredith Lahaie, Kate Doorley)

      • Financial Advisor: Evercore Group LLC

    • DIP Agent: Citibank NA

      • Legal: Shearman & Sterling LLP (Frederic Sosnick, Ned Schodek, Sara Coelho, Ian Roberts)

🏠New Chapter 11 Filing - Monitronics International Inc.🏠

Monitronics International inc.

June 30, 2019

We wrote about Monitronics International Inc. in July 2018 in "😬Home Security Company Looks Vulnerable 😬,” noting that “home security is a tough business (short Ascent Capital Group).” And, by “tough” we meant uber-competitive and saturated. It doesn’t help when you’re levered like a boss. We recommend you read the link above to understand the challenges these businesses faced in a better way than that described in the bankruptcy papers.

That said, the debtors’ capital structure is an important element of this story; they carry:

  • $181.4mm ‘21 Revolving Credit Facility

  • $1.072b ‘22 Term Loan

  • $585mm ‘20 9.125% Senior Notes

Leverage + disruption = a recipe for disaster. This prepackaged bankruptcy filing is meant to address the former. Management will be on the clock to figure out the latter. A significantly deleveraged capital structure and a cash infusion will certainly help.

The debtors’ proposed prepackaged plan of reorganization will eliminate approximately $885mm of funded debt by way of equitizing the entirety of the senior notes, and reducing the revolving credit facility (by $50mm) and the amount of term loans (by $250mm). The term lenders will receive $150mm in cash (financed by a rights offering totaling $177mm) and equitize $100mm worth of their loans. The remainder of the term loan amount will be exchanged for take back paper issued by the reorganized debtors.

Source: First Day Declaration ($ in millions)

Source: First Day Declaration ($ in millions)

This is what the capital structure will look like pre and post-transaction:

Source: First Day Declaration ($ in millions)

Source: First Day Declaration ($ in millions)

The senior unsecured notes are fully exchanged for 18% of pre-diluted equity in the reorganized debtors.

The overall structure of the transaction is complex and depends upon some contingencies. This is the summary the debtors provided:

It might as well be gibberish at this point. Once we know whether Ascent toggle occurs we’ll have a better sense of who is contributing what. Moreover, once we the rights offering is consummated, the debtors’ new ownership will be more obvious.

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

  • Capital Structure: See above.

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Latham & Watkins LLP (David Hammerman, Annemarie Reilly, Jeremy Mispagel, Liza Burton, Brian Rosen, Christopher Harris, Zachary Proulx) & King & Spalding LLP (Roger Schwartz, Sarah Primrose) & (local) Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP (Timothy Davidson, Ashley Harper)

    • Board of Directors: Jeffery Gardner, William Niles, Marc Beilinson, Sherman Edmiston III

    • Financial Advisor: FTI Consulting Inc.

    • Investment Banker: Moelis & Company LLC

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

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Ad Hoc Lender Group (Term B-2 Lenders)(Anchorage Capital Group LLC, Boston Management and Research, BlueMountain Capital Management LLC, Eaton Vance Management, FS Global Advisor LLC, Invesco Advisors Inc., KKR Credit Advisors US LLC, Monarch Alternative Capital LP)

      • Legal: Jones Day (Paul Green, Scott Greenberg, Michael Schneidereit, Peter Saba)

      • Financial Advisor: Evecore LLC

    • Ad Hoc Group of Noteholders

      • Legal: Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP (Kristohper Hansen, Sayan Bhattacharyya, Jason Pierce) & (local) Haynes and Boone LLP (Kelli Norfleet, Stephen Pezanosky)

      • Financial Advisor: Houlihan Lokey Capital Inc.

    • KKR Credit Advisors US LLC

      • Legal: Proskauer Rose LLP (Chris Theodoridis)

    • Administrative Agent under Pre-Petition Credit Agreement: Bank of America NA

      • Legal: Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP (Amelia Joiner) & ( Local) Winstead PC (Sean Davis)

    • Pre-Petition Agent: Cortland Capital Markets Services LLC

      • Legal: Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP (Christopher Odell, Hannah Sibiski, D. Tyler Nurnberg, Sarah Gryll)

    • Ascent Capital Group

      • Legal: Baker Botts LLP

⚡️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)