New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - Imerys Talc America Inc.

Imerys Talc America Inc.

February 13, 2019

Merely a week ago we wrote:

PG&E Corporation's ($PCG) recent liability-based bankruptcy filing got us thinking: what other companies are poised for a litigation-based chapter 11 bankruptcy filing? We think we have a winner. 

Imerys S.A. is a French multinational company that specializes in the production and processing of industrial minerals. Its North American operations are headquartered in Roswell, Georgia and in San Jose, California. Included among Imerys' North American operations is Imerys Talc America. The key word in all of the foregoing is "Talc." 

If only we had purchased a lottery ticket.

Within days, Imerys Talc America Inc. and two affiliated debtors indeed filed for bankruptcy in the District of Delaware. The debtors mine, process and distribute talc for use in end products used in the manufacturing of products sold by third-parties —- primarily Johnson & Johnson Inc. ($JNJ). The debtors have historically been the sole supplier of cosmetic talk to JNJ. And, in part, because of that, they’re getting sued to Kingdom Come. Approximately 14,650 individual claimants are suing the debtors alleging personal injuries caused by exposure to talc mined, processed or distributed by the debtors. The debtors note:

Although personal care/cosmetic sales make up only approximately 5% of the Debtors’ revenue, approximately 98.6% of the pending Talc Claims allege injuries based on use of cosmetic products containing talc.

Whoa. What a number!! What a disparity! Low revenues and yet high claims! What a sham! That just goes to show how absurd these claims are!!

Just kidding. That sentence means absolutely nothing: it is clearly an attempt by lawyers to ignorantly wow people with percentages that have absolutely no significance whatsoever. Who gives a sh*t whether personal care/cosmetic sales are only a small fraction of revenues? If those sales are all laced with toxic crap that are possibly causing people cancer or mesothelioma, the rest is just pixie dust. In fact, it’s possible that 100% of 1% of sales are causing cancer, is it not?

Anyway, naturally, the debtors deny those claims but defending the claims, of course, comes at a huge cost. Per the Company:

…while the Debtors have access to valuable insurance assets that they have relied on to fund their defense and appropriate settlement costs to date, the Debtors have been forced to fund certain litigation costs and settlements out of their free cash flow due to a lack of currently available coverage for certain Talc Claims, or insurers asserting defenses to coverage. The Debtors lack the financial wherewithal to litigate against the mounting Talc Claims being asserted against them in the tort system.

Well that sucks. In addition to the debtors issues obtaining insurance coverage, they’re also apparently bombarded by claimants emboldened by the recent multi-billion dollar verdict rendered against JNJ.. We previously wrote:

While certain cases are running into roadblocks, the prior verdicts call into question whether Imerys has adequate insurance coverage to address the various judgments. If not, the company is likely headed into bankruptcy court — the latest in a series of cases that will attempt to deploy bankruptcy code section 524's channeling injunction and funnel claims against a trust. 

Indeed, given issues with insurance (and JNJ refusing to indemnify the debtors as expected in certain instances), the massive verdict, AND discussions with a proposed future claims representative, the debtors concluded that a chapter 11 filing would be the best way to handle the talc-related liabilities. And indeed a channeling injunction is a core goal. Per the debtors:

The Debtors’ primary goal in filing these Chapter 11 Cases is to confirm a consensual plan of reorganization pursuant to Sections 105(a), 524(g), and 1129 of the Bankruptcy Code that channels all of the present and future Talc Claims to a trust vested with substantial assets and provides for a channeling injunction prohibiting claimants from asserting against any Debtor or non-debtor affiliate any claims arising from talc mined, produced, sold, or distributed by any of the Debtors prior to their emergence from these Chapter 11 Cases. While the Debtors dispute all liability as to the Talc Claims, the Debtors believe this approach will provide fair and equitable treatment of all stakeholders.

The comparisons to PG&E were on point.

  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware (Judge Silverstein)

  • Capital Structure: $14.4mm inter-company payable.

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Latham & Watkins LLP (George Davis, Keith Simon, Annemarie Reilly, Richard Levy, Jeffrey Bjork, Jeffrey Mispagel, Helena Tseregounis) & (local) Richards Layton & Finger PA (Mark Collins, Michael Merchant, Amanda Steele)

    • Financial Advisor: Alvarez & Marsal North America LLC

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

  • Other Parties in Interst:

    • Imerys SA

      • Legal: Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP (Christopher Kiplok, William Beausoleil, George Tsougarakis, Erin Diers) & (local) Bayard PA (Scott Cousins, Erin Fay)

    • Future Claims Representative: James L. Patton Jr.

      • Legal: Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor LLP

      • Financial Advisor: Ankura Consulting Group LLC

New Chapter 11 Filing - Open Road Films LLC

Open Road Films LLC

9/6/18

Rough year for movie production houses. After Relativity Media and The Weinstein Company filed chapter 11 cases earlier this year, Open Road Films LLC now finds itself in bankruptcy court. The company behind Jobs, Nightcrawler and other mostly forgettable films has had a dramatic fall from grace after being acquired by current equityholder TMP Holdings from Regal Entertainment Group and AMC Entertainment merely a year ago. Though contemplated at the time of acquisition, the company was unable to secure funding to, among other things, restructure the company (in the out-of-court sense) and streamline operations. The question is why? Why couldn't the company secure funding? 

The company notes:

Among other things, increased volatility in overall film performance exacerbated investor concerns regarding the probability and predictability of studio financial success, especially outside of the major studios. This overall volatility was exacerbated by the specific underperformance of certain of the Company’s recent motion picture releases, most of which were initiated by prior management. In addition, competitive options for consumers limit interest in theatrical distribution and the traditional film business model, imposing additional pressure on companies like the Debtors, and further fueling investor skepticism.

In other words, blame Reese Witherspoon ("Home Again" flopped), Jodie Foster ("Hotel Artemis" completely bombed) and Netflix ($NFLX). 

With no incoming funding and a resultant inability to obtain a "going concern" qualification, the company defaulted on its loan with Bank of America. BofA, therefore, limited access to certain deposit accounts, all the while vendors were seeking payments. Already this drama is more interesting than "Home Again." 

The company intends to use the chapter 11 process to market and sell its assets; it does not yet have a stalking horse bidder, though FTI reports that 11 parties have submitted indications of interest. 

The top 40 general unsecured creditors list is a who's who of media elites, including "old media" firms like Viacom Inc. (owed $7mm), The Walt Disney Company (owed $5.1mm), NBCUniversal (owed $4.4mm), Turner Broadcasting System (owed $3.5mm). Other top creditors include Google, Facebook, Snap, Twitter, Amazon, Spotify, and Pandora Media. And Latham & Watkins, which appears to be getting hosed on a half million dollar legal bill. 

  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware (Judge Silverstein)
  • Capital Structure: $90.75 mm secured debt (Bank of America NA)     
  • Company Professionals:
    • Legal: Klee Tuchin Bogdanoff & Stern LLP (Michael Tuchin, Jonathan Weiss, Sasha Gurvitz, Whitman Holt) & (local) Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor LLP (Michael Nestor, Sean Beach, Robert Poppiti Jr., Ian Bambrick)
    • Financial Advisor/CRO: FTI Consulting Inc. (Amir Agam)
    • Claims Agent: Donlin Recano & Company Inc. (*click on company name above for free docket access)
  • Other Parties in Interest:
    • Prepetition Lender: Bank of America NA
      • Legal: Paul Hastings LLP (Andrew Tenzer, Shlomo Maza) & (local) Ashby & Geddes PA (William Bowden)
    • Prepetition Creditor: East West Bank
      • Legal: Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP (David Staber) & (local) Whiteford Taylor & Preston LLC (Christopher Samis, L. Katherine Good, Aaron Stulman)
    • Prepetition Creditor: Bank Leumi USA
      • Legal: Reed Smith LLP (Marsha Houston, Christopher Rivas, Michael Sherman

👗New Chapter 11 Filing - J&M Sales Inc./National Stores Inc.👗

Another day, another retailer in bankruptcy. Today, J&M Sales Inc., a “leading discount retailer” with $5-average-price goods in 344 stores in 22 states — operating under the names Fallas, Fallas Paredes, Fallas Discount Stores, Factory 2-U, Fallas and Anna’s Linen’s by Fallas — finds itself in bankruptcy court. The company offers value-priced merchandise, including apparel, bedding, household supplies, decor items and more; it generally supports underserved, low-income communities and can be found in power strip centers, specialty centers and downtown areas. All of its locations are leased.

The company blames (i) general retail pressures, (ii) bad weather (specifically hurricanes Harvey and Maria), (iii) a data breach (and a attendant $2mm reserve account set up by the credit card companies) and (iv) poor integration of growth acquisitions (e.g., Conway’s) for its chapter 11 filing. These company-specific factors may help explain why this company is apparently bucking the national trend of discount retail success (see, e.g., Dollar Tree).

The company intends to use the chapter 11 process to shop itself as a going concern and close at least 74 stores. The company makes no mention, however, of the extent of the sale process and there is no stalking horse bidder currently lined up. The company will seek approval of a (no new money?) $57mm DIP credit facility as well as credit support from certain “Critical Vendors” on a second and third lien basis.

  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware (Judge Silverstein)

  • Capital Structure: $57mm ABL (Encina Business Credit LLC/Israel Discount Bank of New York), $30mm term loan (Gordon Brothers Finance Company), $13.4mm Letters of Credit, $10mm Fallas Loan

  • Company Professionals:

    • Legal: Katten Muchin Roseman LLP (WIlliam Freeman, Karen Dine, Jerry Hall) & (local) Pachulski Stang Ziehl & Jones LLP (Richard Pachulski, Peter Keane)

    • Financial Advisor: SierraConstellation Partners LLC (Curt Kroll)

    • Investment Banker: Imperial Capital LLC

    • Real Estate Advisor: RCS Real Estate Advisors

    • Liquidation Agent: Hilco Merchant Resources LLC

    • Claims Agent: Prime Clerk LLC (click on company name above for free docket access)

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • DIP Agents: Encina Business Credit LLC (Legal: Choate Hall & Stewart LLP, Kevin Simard) & Discount Bank of New York (Legal: Otterbourg PC, Daniel Fiorillo)

New Chapter 11 Filing - ABT Molecular Imaging Inc.

ABT Molecular Imaging Inc. 

6/13/18

ABT is the designer, manufacturer and distributor of a Biomarker Generator. Our eyes glazed over just reading the filing papers on this one so we're going to outsource here, spare ourselves some time, and spare ourselves some serious boredom. 

The bottom line is that the company lost more money ($5.5mm) than it made in sales ($5.4mm). The company has $30mm of liabilities, all in, and assets with a net book value of merely $2.5mm. The disparity stems, in most respects, from the debt on the company's balance sheet. The purpose of the filing is to address the balance sheet and/or pursue a sale of the business. The company's secured lender, SWK Funding LLC, has agreed to fund a DIP credit facility over the course of the case and sponsor a sale through a chapter 11 plan if, during the bankruptcy process, the company is unable to find another suitable purchaser. 

  • Jurisdiction: D of Delaware (Judge Silverstein)
  • Capital Structure: $9.6mm first lien debt (SWK Funding LLC), $16.1 second lien debt (SWK Funding LLC)  
  • Company Professionals:
    • Legal: Bayard PA (Justin Alberto, Erin Fay, Daniel Brogan, Greg Flasser)
    • Investment Banker:: SSG Capital Advisors LLC (J. Scott Victor, Neil Gupta, Michael Gunderson)
    • Claims Agent: Garden City Group (*click on company name above for free docket access)
  • Other Parties in Interest:
    • Secured Lender: SWK Funding LLC
      • Legal: Holland & Knight LLP (Brian Smith, Brent Mcilwain) & (local) Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor LLP 

New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy - Herald Media Holdings Inc.

Herald Media Holdings Inc.

  • 12/8/17 Recap: Boston-based 170-year old legacy print news media company that owns and publishes (i) the Boston Herald and (ii) the bostonherald.com digital media site has filed for bankruptcy to effectuate an expedited 363 sale to Gatehouse Media Massachusetts I, Inc for "an all-in value of not less than $5,000,000." In a sign of the times known to literally everyone, the Company notes in its filing that "there has been an increase in news source and advertising alternatives that has continued to erode traditional print media sources of revenue. Incremental digital revenue has not been sufficient to offset the decline in print revenue." Interestingly - given that there is a lot of discussion today about the state of media and the push-pull of advertising dollars vs. subscription revenue - the company derives approximately 67% of its revenue from paid circulation (single copy sales and subscription sales) and approximately 33% from print and online advertising. Nevertheless, the company's projections reflect a nearly $3mm loss for fiscal year 2018. In an effort to combat declining revenues, the Company pursued cost-cutting initiatives (e.g., headcount reductions, outsourcing, etc.,) but no more levers remained available to pull. Indeed, "[g]iven the general economic climate for the newspaper industry and the company’s significant pension and retirement liabilities, no financing options are available for the company to continue with its current capital structure." Note that the company's top list of creditors reflects various unions under four different collective bargaining agreements (CBAs): those fixed costs aren't easy to shed outside of bankruptcy. Employee-related expenses including payroll, benefits and pension/retirement contributions account for 58% of operating expenses while production and distribution of the paper accounts for 23% of total operating expenses. Looking at those numbers, it becomes pretty obvious why this business became unsustainable. Notably, the propose sale is conditioned upon the Company rejecting all CBAs in bankruptcy so that the asset transfer is free and clear of those obligations. Gatehouse is offering a $500k DIP credit facility to fund the administration of the case.
  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware (Judge Silverstein) 
  • Company Professionals:
    • Legal: Brown Rudnick LLP (William Baldiga, Sunni Belville, Tristan Axelrod) & (local) Morris Nichols Arsht & Tunnell LLP (Curtis Miller, Tamara Minott, Jose Bibiloni)
    • Investment Banker: Dirks Van Essen & Murray
    • Claims Agent: Epiq Bankruptcy Solutions LLC (*click on company name above for free docket access)
  • Other Parties in Interest:

Updated 12/9/17 10:20 am CT

New Chapter 11 Filing - GST AutoLeather Inc.

GST AutoLeather Inc.

  • 10/3/17 Recap: Disruption, illustrated. The automobile industry is at the beginning of a downturn marked by auto price reductions and a drop in new vehicle production. Automobile output is down 4% over the past year as automobile dealers are placing fewer manufacturing orders and dealing with excess supply. Moreover, auto OEMs are decreasing the leather content in certain new vehicles. Finally, automobiles are lasting longer and "the climbing popularity of ride-sharing services, such as Uber and Lyft...diminish consumers' needs for their own cars." Put simply, there is a demand side decline. Consequently, here, the Southfield Michigan-based supplier of leather interiors filed a freefall bankruptcy with the hope of consummating an expedited (approximately 2-month timeframe) 363 asset sale. The company has secured a $40mm DIP credit facility to fund its bankruptcy; it continues talks with its senior lenders about a stalking horse bid to purchase the company. In addition to the aforementioned macro factors, the company blames its deteriorated financial performance on (i) issues associated with certain new customer launches in Europe, (ii) supply chain issues with a critical Chinese supplier who is using leverage to extract out-of-contract economics from the company and (iii) constraints imposed by significant working capital investments to mitigate supply chain disruption to its customers (which include the likes of major auto OEMs, e.g., Audi, BMW/Mini, Daimler, Fiat Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Hyundai, Honda, Porsche, PSA, Nissan, Kia, Toyota and Volkswagen).
  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware (Judge Silverstein)
  • Capital Structure: $24mm '19 RCF, $140mm '20 TL-B (Royal Bank of Canada), $32mm mezz debt (Triangle Capital Corp./Alcentra Capital Corp.)
  • Company Professionals:
    • Legal: Kirkland & Ellis LLP (James Sprayragen, Ryan Blaine Bennett, Michael Slade, Alexandra Schwarzman, Timothy Bow, Benjamin Rhode, Luke Ruse) & (local) Pachulski Stang Ziehl & Jones LLP (Laura Davis Jones, Timothy Cairns, Joseph Mulvihill)
    • Financial Advisor/CRO: Alvarez & Marsal North America LLC (Jonathan Hickman, Jay Herriman)
    • Investment Banker: Lazard Middle Market (Jason A. Cohen)
    • Claims Agent: Epiq Bankruptcy Solutions LLC (*click on company name above for free docket access)
  • Other Parties in Interest:
    • Sponsor: Advantage Partners
    • Lender Group (Royal Bank of Canada, as DIP Admin Agent)
      • Legal: Paul Hastings LLP (Andrew Tenzer, Michael Comerford, Shlomo Maza) & Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor LLP (Pauline Morgan, M. Blake Cleary, Justin Rucki)
      • Financial Advisors: FTI Consulting
    • Mezzanine Lenders:
      • Legal: McGuireWoods LLP (Anne Croteau, Douglas Foley) & (local) Benesch Friedlander Coplan & Aronoff LLP (Jennifer Hoover, William Alleman Jr.)
    • Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors
      • Legal: Foley & Lardner LLP (Erika Morabito, Brittany Nelson, John Simon, Richard Bernard, Leah Eisenberg) & (local) Whiteford Taylor & Preston LLC (Christopher Samis, L. Katherine Good, Kevin Shaw, Christopher Jones, David Gaffey)
      • Financial Advisor: Berkeley Research Group LLC (Christopher Kearns, Peter Chadwick, Michelle Tran, Kevin Beard, Jay Wu)
      • Investment Banker: Configure Partners LLC (Jay Jacquin)

Updated 11/15/17 7:55 am CT

New Chapter 11 Filing - The Original Soupman Inc.

The Original Soupman, Inc.

  • 6/13/17 Recap: Bankruptcy for you! Company that licensed the name and recipes of the chef who inspired the "Soup Nazi" on Seinfeld has filed for bankruptcy with a $2mm DIP credit facility to fund the case. The CFO had been indicted for tax evasion. We wonder whether the prison he goes to will have soup that lives up to the Soupman standard. Anyway, we digress. The company sells soups to and through grocery chains (6500 of them) and club stores throughout the United States; it also provides soup to the New York City School System and has six franchised restaurants, the largest of which resides on the Upper West Side. So a Nazi serves the school system. Awesome. 
  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware (Silverstein).
  • Capital Structure: $3.66mm secured debt (Hillair Capital Investments LP), $3.3mm unsecured notes.
  • Company Professionals:
    • Legal: Polsinelli PC (Christopher Ward, Jarrett Vine, Jeremy Johnson)
    • Financial Advisor/CRO: Wyse Advisors LLC (Michael Wyse) 
    • Claims Agent: Epiq Bankruptcy Solutions LLC (*click on company name above for free docket access)
  • Other Parties in Interest:
    • DIP Lender: Soupman Lending LLC
      • Legal: Arent Fox LLP (Robert Hirsh, Beth Brownstein) & (local) Bayard PA (Justin Alberto, Erin Fay)

Updated 6/17/17

New Chapter 11 Filing - FirstRain Inc.

FirstRain, Inc.

  • 6/5/17 Recap: California-based enterprise SaaS company that services Fortune 1000 companies with its software and analytics-driven apps to discover/read/discern/summarize useful insights about other companies/markets filed a prepackaged bankruptcy. The plan contemplates $7.5mm of total consideration including a $4mm DIP credit facility and the plan is to pay the DIP Lender in full, general unsecureds in full and provide the prepetition lender a partial recovery. ESW Capital LLC will own the company on the backend of the restructuring.
  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware (Judge Silverstein)
  • Capital Structure: $5.5mm secured debt (Pacific Western Bank as successor to Square 1 Bank)    
  • Company Professionals:
    • Legal: The Rosner Law Group LLC (Frederick Rosner, Scott James Leonhardt)
    • Investment Banker: Atlas Technology Group LLC
    • Claims Agent: JND Legal Administration (*click on company name above for free docket access)
  • Other Parties in Interest:
    • DIP Lender: ESW Capital LLC
      • Legal: Haynes and Boone LLP (Trevor Hoffman, Arsalan Muhammad) & (local) Morris Nichols Arsht & Tunnell LLP (Derek Abbott, Matthew Talmo)
    • Prepetition Lender: Pacific Western Bank
      • Legal: Levy Small & Lallas (Leo Plotkin) & (local) Chipman Brown Cicero & Cole LLP (William Chipman Jr.) 

Updated 7/18/17