🚁New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - PHI Inc.🚁

PHI Inc.

March 15, 2019

It’s pretty rare to see a company affected by macro factors in two industries. And, yet, Louisiana-based PHI Inc. ($PHI) and four affiliates filed for bankruptcy in the Northern District of Texas, marking the fourth bankruptcy fallout in the helicopter services space following Waypoint LeasingErickson Incorporated and CHC Group. The company is a leading provider of transportation services to both the oil and gas industry (including, for example, Shell Oil CompanyBP America Production CompanyExxonMobil Production Co.ConocoPhillips CompanyENI Petroleum and the recently-bankrupt Fieldwood Energyand the medical services industry. It operates 238 aircraft, 213 which are company-owned and 119 of which are dedicated to oil and gas operations and 111 of which are dedicated to medical services. The company generated $675mm in revenue in 2018 — with much of that revenue coming from fixed-term contracts.

The company strongly asserts that operational failures are not a cause of its bankruptcy — a clear cut message to the market which might otherwise be concerned about safety and reliability. The issue here, the company notes, is the balance sheet, especially a March 15 2019 maturity of the company’s $500mm in unsecured notes. Despite alleged efforts to address this maturity with the company’s (fresh out of the womb) secured term loan holder and an ad hoc group of unsecured noteholders, the company was unable to do so.

The broader issue, however, is that the industry may be ripe for consolidation. Back in 2017, the company acquired the offshore business of HNZ Group Inc. This transaction expanded the company’s capacity to more international geographies. But given the dearth of offshore oil and gas production activity of late and intense competition in the space, there might be a need for more industry-wide M&A. The company notes:

As a result of this prolonged cyclical downturn in the industry, oil and gas exploration projects have been reduced significantly by the Company’s customers. Indeed, many customers have significantly reduced the number of helicopters used for their operations and have utilized this time instead to drive major changes in their offshore businesses, which have in turn drastically reduced revenues to PHI’s O&G business segment in the Gulf of Mexico. And while the price of crude oil slowly began to recover in 2018, the volatility in the market continues to drive uncertainty and negatively impact the scope and volume of services requested from service providers such as PHI.

This is simple supply and demand:

The effect of the downturn in the oil and gas industry has been felt by nearly all companies in the helicopter service industry. The downturn created an oversaturation of helicopters in the market, significantly impacting service companies’ utilization and yields. Indeed, this domino effect on the industry has required helicopter operators, like their customers, to initiate their own cost-cutting measures, including reducing fleet size and requesting rental reductions on leased aircraft.

Had these issues been isolated to the oil and gas space, the company would not have been in as bad shape considering that 38% of its revenue is attributable to medical services. But that segment also experienced trouble on account of…:

…weather-related issues and delays, changes in labor costs, and an increase in patients covered by Medicare and Medicaid (as opposed to commercial insurers), which resulted in slower and reduced collections, given that reimbursement rates from public insurance are significantly lower than those from commercial insurers or self-pay.

Compounding matters are laws and regulations that prohibit the debtors from refusing service to patients who are unable to pay. This creates an inherently risky business model dynamic. And it hindered company efforts to sell the business line to pay down debt.

Taken together, these issues are challenging enough. Tack on $700mm of debt, the inability to refi out its maturity, AND the inability to corral lenders to agree on a consensual deleveraging (which included a failed tender offer) and you have yet another freefall helicopter bankruptcy. Now the company will leverage the bankruptcy “breathing spell” and lower voting thresholds provided by the Bankruptcy Code to come to an agreement with its lenders on a plan of reorganization.

*****

That is, if agreement can be had. Suffice it to say, things were far from consensual in the lead up to (and at) the first day hearing in the case. To point, the Delaware Trust Companyas trustee for the senior unsecured notes, filed an objection to the company’s CASH MANAGEMENT motion because…well…there is no DIP Motion to object to. “Why is that,” you ask? Good question…

The debtors levered up their balance sheet in the lead-up to PHI’s well-known maturity. The debtors replaced their ABL in September with the $130mm term loan provided by Al Gonsoulin, the company’s CEO, Board Chairman and controlling shareholder. Thereafter — and by “thereafter,” we mean TWO DAYS BEFORE THE BANKRUPTCY FILING — the company layered another $70mm of secured debt onto the company, encumbering previously unencumbered aircraft and granting Mr. Gonsoulin a second lien. This is some savage balance sheet wizardry that has the effect of (a) priming the unsecured creditors and likely meaningfully affecting their recoveries and (b) securing Mr. Gonsoulin’s future with the company (and economic upside). Making matters worse, the trustee argues that the company made no real effort to shop the financing nor actively engage with the ad hoc committee of noteholders on the terms of a financing or restructuring; it doesn’t dispute, however, that the company had $70mm of availability under its indenture.

So what happened next? Over the course of a two day hearing, witnesses offered testimony about the pre-petition negotiations and financing process (or lack thereof) — again, in the context of a cash management motion. We love when sh*t gets creative! The lawyers for the company and the trustee hurled accusations and threats, the CEO was called a “patriot” (how, even if true, that is applicable to this context is anyone’s guess), and, ultimately, the judge didn’t care one iota about any of the trustee’s witness testimony and blessed the debtors’ motion subject to the company providing the trustee with weekly financial reporting. In other words, while this routine first day hearing was anything but, the result was par for the course.

Expect more fireworks as the case proceeds. Prospective counsel to the eventual official committee of unsecured creditors is salivating as we speak.

  • Jurisdiction: N.D. of Texas (Judge Hale)

  • Capital Structure: $130mm ‘20 senior secured term loan (Thirty Two LLC), $70mm secured term loan (Blue Torch Capital LP), $500 million ‘19 unsecured 5.25% senior notes

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: DLA Piper US LLP (Daniel Prieto, Thomas Califano, Daniel Simon, David Avraham, Tara Nair)

    • Legal (corporate): Jones Walker LLP

    • Financial Advisor: FTI Consulting Inc. (Robert Del Genio, Michael Healy)

    • Investment Banker: Houlihan Lokey Capital Inc.

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

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Prepetition TL & DIP Lender: Blue Torch Capital LP

    • Ad Hoc Committee of unsecured noteholders & Delaware Trust Company as Trustee for Senior Notes

      • Legal: Milbank LLP (Andrew LeBlanc, Dennis Dunne, Samuel Khalil) & (local) Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP (Louis Strubeck Jr., Greg Wilkes)

      • Financial Advisor: PJT Partners LP (Michael Genereaux)

    • Indenture trustee under the 5.25% Senior Notes due 2019 (Delaware Trust Company)

    • Thirty Two LLC

    • Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors (Delaware Trust Company, Oaktree Capital Management LP, Q5-R5 Trading Ltd., Regions Equipment Finance Corp., Helicopter Support Inc.)

      • Legal:

    • Official Committee of Equity Security Holders

      • Legal: Levene Neale Bender Yoo & Brill LLP (David Golubnik, Eve Karasik) & (local) Gray Reed & McGraw LLP (Jason Brookner)

      • Financial Advisor: Imperial Capital LLC (David Burns)

🔥New Chapter 11 Filing - Westmoreland Coal Company🔥

Westmoreland Coal Company

October 9, 2018

In our April piece entitled "🌑Trouble Brews in Coal Country🌑," we noted how Westmoreland Coal Company ($WLB) was headed towards a bankruptcy filing. Subsequently, in May, the company obtained a small round of financing ($90mm) to bridge itself to a chapter 11 bankruptcy filing. Alas, we're upon that filing — a “Chapter 33,” of sorts, for good measure.

And it’s an…interesting…one. The company’s First Day Declaration leads with “What is Coal” and then goes on to mansplain what coal is. It’s beautiful. It’s educational. It’s…odd. Per the Declaration:

Coal is a fossil fuel that forms from the remains of vegetation as long as 400 million years ago. The plants from eons ago captured energy through photosynthesis to create compounds (carbon) in plant tissue. When those plants and trees died, they ultimately sank to the bottom of swamps and formed a dense material called peat, which progressively carbonized under the earth’s pressure and changing temperatures and eventually became a combustible sedimentary and metamorphic rock, which is referred to as coal.

There are at least four ranks of coal, depending on the carbon content: lignite; subbituminous; bituminous; and anthracite. Some estimate that 90 percent of the coal in America is bituminous (i.e., soft) coal, which is primarily used to make electricity through combustion in boilers to make steam that is used to generate power (called steam or thermal coal) and coke for the steel industry (metallurgical or coking coal). The Debtors mine lignite, subbituminous, and bituminous coal.

We are thankful for the explanation. After all, there haven’t been many opportunities over the last decade to explore the intersection of coal and bankruptcy. Oh…wait. Hang on. Right. Ok, sure, there was Peabody Energy. Ah, yeah, and Alpha Natural Resources. And Edison Mission Energy, Patriot Coal (x2), Walter Energy, Arch Coal, Xinergy, Armstrong Energy and James River Coal. To name a few. But we digress.

Anyway, THIS bankruptcy implicates Westmoreland (with affiliates, “WLB”), a thermal coal producer that sells coal to “investment grade power plants under long-term cost-protected contracts, as well as to industrial customers and barbeque charcoal manufacturers.” The company’s mines are located in Montana, North Dakota, Texas, Ohio and New Mexico, of which only 4 of a total of 23 are active. The company’s strategy generally revolves around focusing on coal markets where the company can leverage geographic proximity to power plants, some of which were specifically designed to use the company’s coal. Close proximity also permits the company to avoid onerous transportation costs, which, in turn, provides the company with flexibility to be a low(er) cost provider. There is a bit of an export business as well.

The problem is that “[t]he American coal industry is intensely competitive.” The company adds:

In addition to competition from other coal producers, the Debtors compete with producers of alternative fuels used for electrical power generation, such as nuclear energy, natural gas, hydropower, petroleum, solar, and wind. Costs and other factors such as safety, environmental, and regulatory considerations related to alternative fuels affect the overall demand for coal as a fuel. Political dynamics in the United States and Canada have additionally resulted in a reduction of the market demand for coal-based energy solutions.

Tack on a hefty chunk of debt:

And then mix in that the company is (i) subject to 7 collective bargaining agreements and, (ii) in addition to a multi-employer pension plan, that it also provides defined benefit pension plans to qualified employees — which, naturally, are underfunded by approximately $29mm and carry a termination liability of approximately $77.3mm. But wait, there’s more. The company also has, among other things, approximately (i) $1.3mm in retiree medical obligations, (ii) $18.2mm in federal regulatory Black Lung Act obligations, (iii) $334mm of “other post-employment benefit” obligations and (iv) asset retirement obligations of approximately $474.5mm. Why anyone would want to get into the coal business is beyond us. That all sounds outright depressing.

The company blames the following for its bankruptcy filing: (a) a challenging macro environment (⬇️ production and ⬇️demand); (b) a capital intensive business model; (c) the rise of natural gas as a lower cost alternative to coal (score one for the frackers!); and (d) regulation which, as you can see from the panoply of liabilities noted above, helps create a quite a heavy hitter lineup of economic obligations. Per the company:

When coupled with the external pricing pressure, increased regulation, political opposition to coal in the United States and Canada, and other costs associated with WLB’s businesses, these liabilities have hindered WLB’s ability to operate competitively in the current market environment.

And so the company has filed its chapter 11 bankruptcy with the consent of 76% of its term lenders, 57.9% of its senior secured noteholders and 79.1% of its bridge lenders to pursue a dual-track sale of its core assets to an entity to be formed on behalf of the senior secured noteholders and term lenders, subject to highest or best offers for the core assets at an auction. The sale will be consummated through a plan to, among other things, preserve tax benefits. The company will also continue to market its non-core assets. Likewise, the master limited partnership 94% owned by the company (“WMLP”) is for sale. Notably, with no prospect of a restructuring on the horizon, there is no deal in place with the unions and retirees and WLB may have to proceed on a non-consensual basis.

The company marched in to court with a commitment for a $110mm DIP. It will roll-up the bridge loan and fund the cases while the sale processes progress.

Update: In “Grocery Workers, Miners, and Who Ain’t Getting Paid (Short #MAGA),” we noted how coal miners employed by Westmoreland Coal Company were, due to a recent decision by Judge Jones in the Southern District of Texas, in for a world of hurt. Now the company has officially filed its motion seeking to reject certain collective bargaining agreements and modify certain retiree benefits pursuant to sections 1113 and 1114 of the Bankruptcy Code. #MAGA!!

Update: On January 21, 2019, the company filed a “Notice of Cancellation of Auction and Designation of Successful Bidder” after the company didn’t receive any qualified bids for its core assets other than the original stalking horse bid. The company’s Buckingham Mine, a non-core asset, did, in contrast, receive some interest and the company, therefore, will seek to sell that mine in due time.

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

  • Capital Structure: See above.

  • Company Professionals:

    • Legal: Kirkland & Ellis LLP (James Sprayragen, Edward Sassower, Stephen Hessler, Michael Slade, Greg Pesce, Anna Rotman, Christopher Koenig, Gerardo Mijares-Shafai, Timothy Bow) & (local) Jackson Walker LLP (Patricia Tomasco, Matthew Cavenaugh)

    • Legal Conflicts Counsel to Westmoreland Resource Partners LP and the Conflicts Committee of the Board of Directors of Westmoreland Resources GP LLC: Jones Day (Heather Lennox, Timothy Hoffman, Oliver Zeltner)

    • Financial Advisor to Westmoreland Resource Partners LP and the Conflicts Committee of the Board of Directors of Westmoreland Resources GP LLC: Lazard Freres & Co. LLC (Tyler Cowan)

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

    • Investment Banker: Centerview Partners LLC (Marc Puntus)

    • Claims Agent: Donlin Recano & Co. (*click on company name above for free docket access)

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • WMLP Ad Hoc Group

      • Legal: Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP (David Hillman, Kristine Manoukian, Lucy Kweskin, Kelly Knight) & (local) Jones Walker LLP (Joseph Bain, Mark Mintz)

      • Financial Advisor: Houlihan Lokey Capital, Inc.

    • Administrative Agent under Bridge Loan & DIP Agreements: Wilmington Savings Fund Society FSB

      • Legal: Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP (Andrew Goldman, Benjamin Loveland) & (local) Okin Adams LLP (Matthew Okin, David Curry Jr.)

    • WMB Ad Hoc Group of Term Lenders

      • Legal: Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP (Thomas Mayer, Stephen Zide)

    • Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors

      • Legal: Morrison & Foerster LLP (Lorenzo Marinuzzi, Todd Goren, Jennifer Marines, Dimitra Doufekias) & (local) Cole Schotz PC (Michael Warner, Felice Yudkin, Nicholas Brannick, Benjamin Wallen)

    • United States Trustee

      • Legal: Debevoise & Plimpton LLP (M. Natasha Labovitz, Erica Weisgerber) & (local) Zach Clement PLLC

New Chapter 11 Filing - iHeartMedia Inc.

iHeartMedia Inc.

3/14/18

iHeartMedia Inc., a leading global media company specializing in radio, outdoor, mobile, social, live media, on-demand entertainment and more, has filed for bankruptcy -- finally succumbing to its $20 billion of debt ($16 billion funded) and $1.4 billion of cash interest in 2017. WOWSERS. The company purports to have "an agreement in principle with the majority of [its] creditors and [its] financial sponsors that reflects widespread support across the capital structure for a comprehensive plan to restructure...$10 billion..." of debt.

The company notes $3.6 billion of revenue and unparalleled monthly reach ((we'll have more to say about this in this Sunday's Members-only newsletter (3/18/18) - this claim deserves an asterisk)). 

Still, as it also notes, the company faces significant headwinds. It states in its First Day Declaration,

"Among other factors, the global economic downturn that began in 2008 resulted in a decline in advertising and marketing spending by the Debtors’ customers, which resulted in a corresponding decline in advertising revenues across the Debtors’ business. Then, as the economy recovered, the Debtors’ industry faced new and intense competition from the rapidly-growing internet and digital advertising industry and the entry of on-demand streaming services, both of which siphoned off the share of advertiser revenues allocated by agencies and brands to broadcast radio. The Debtors have taken various operational steps to stem the negative effect of these trends; among other initiatives, the Debtors have successfully developed emerging platforms including its industry-leading iHeartRadio digital platform and nationally-recognized iHeartRadio-branded live events that are audio and video streamed and televised nationwide."

The company ought to expect these trends to continue.

Large creditors include Cumulus Media Inc. (~$5.6 million...yikes) and Spotify (~$2 million).  

  • Jurisdiction: S.D. of Texas
  • Capital Structure:    
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  • Company Professionals:
    • Legal: Kirkland & Ellis LLP (James Sprayragen, Anup Sathy, Brian Wolfe, William Guerrieri, Christopher Marcus, Stephen Hackney, Richard U.S. Howell, Benjamin Rhode, AnnElyse Gibbons) & Jackson Walker LLP (Patricia Tomasco, Matthew Cavenaugh, Jennifer Wertz)
    • Financial Advisor to the Company: Moelis & Co. 
      • Legal: Latham & Watkins LLP (Caroline Reckler, Matthew Warren)
    • Restructuring Advisor to the Company: Alvarez & Marsal LLC
    • Legal for the Independent Directors: Munger Tolles & Olson LLP (Kevin Allred, Seth Goldman, Thomas Walper, John Spiegel)
    • Financial Advisor to the Independent Directors: Perella Weinberg Partners LP
    • Claims Agent: Prime Clerk LLC (*click on company name above for free docket access)
  • Other Parties in Interest:
    • Large Equity Holders: Bain Capital & Thomas H. Lee Partners
      • Legal: Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP (Matthew Barr, Christopher Lopez, Gabriel Morgan)
    • Potential Buyer: Liberty Media Corporation & Sirius XM Holdings Inc.
      • Legal: Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP (Stephen Karotkin, Ray Schrock, Alfredo Perez)
    • Successor Trustee for the 6.875% '18 Senior Notes and 7.25% '27 Senior Notes: Wilmington Savings Fund Society, FSB
      • Legal: White & Case LLP (Thomas Lauria, Jason Zakia, Erin Rosenberg, J. Christopher Shore, Harrison Denman, Michele Meises, Mark Franke, Michael Garza) & Pryor Cashman LLP (Seth Lieberman, Patrick Sibley, Matthew Silverman) & (local) Andrews Kurth Kenyon LLP (Robin Russell, Timothy A. Davidson II, Ashley Harper)
    • Successor Trustee for the 11.25% '21 Priority Guaranty Notes
      • Legal: Kelley Drye & Warren LLP (Eric Wilson, Benjamin Feder, Kristin Elliott)
    • Successor Trustee for the 14.00% Senior Notes due 2021
      • Legal: Norton Rose Fulbright (US) LLP (Jason Boland, Christy Rivera, Marian Baldwin Fuerst)
    • Term Loan/PGN Group
      • Legal: Jones Day (Thomas Howley, Bruce Bennett, Joshua Mester)
    • Ad Hoc Group of Term Loan Lenders
      • Legal: Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP (Michael Messersmith, Tyler Nurnberg, Sarah Gryll, Christopher Odell, Hannah Sibiski) 
    • TPG Specialty Lending Inc.
      • Legal: Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP (Adam Harris, David Hillman, James Bentley) & (local) Jones Walker LLP (Joseph Bain, Laura Ashley) 
    • Special Committees of the Board of Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings Inc.
      • Legal: Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP (Matthew Feldman, Paul Shalhoub, Christopher Koenig, Jennifer Jay Hardy)
    • Ad Hoc Committee of 14% Senior Noteholders of iHeart Communications
      • Legal: Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP (Robert Klyman, Matt Williams, Keith Martorana, Matthew Porcelli) & (local) Porter Hedges LLP (John Higgins, Aaron Power, Samuel Spiers)
    • 9.00% Priority Guarantee Notes due 2019 Trustee: Wilmington Trust NA
      • Legal: Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP (Jayme Goldstein, Daniel Fliman, Brian Wells) & (local) Haynes and Boone, LLP (Charles Beckham Jr., Martha Wyrick, Kelsey Zottnick)
    • Citibank N.A.
      • Legal: Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP (Joel Levitin, Richard Stieglitz Jr.) & (local) Locke Lord LLP (Berry Spears)
    • Delaware Trust Company
      • Legal: Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP (Benjamin Finestone, K. John Shaffer, Monica Tarazi, Victor Noskov)
    • Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors
      • Legal: Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP (Ira Dizengoff, Philip Dublin, Naomi Moss, Charles Gibbs, Marty Brimmage)

Updated 3/30/18