🏠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 Filing - FirstEnergy Solutions Corp.

FirstEnergy Solutions Corp. 

March 31, 2018

#MAGA!!

FirstEnergy Solutions Corp. ("FES"), the wholly-owned subsidiary of publicly-traded (non-debtor) FirstEnergy Corp. has filed a "freefall" bankruptcy in the Northern District of Ohio. FES is a provider of "unregulated"-yet-regulated energy-related products and services to retail and wholesale customers primarily in Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania. It owns and operates (a) fossil generating facilities (read: coal) in Ohio (three) and Philadelphia (one) through its FirstEnergy Generation subsidiary ("FG") and, (b) 3 nuclear generating facilities (two in Ohio and one in Philadelphia)through its FirstEnergy Nuclear Generation LLC ("NG") subsidiary. 

For those of you who aren't power geeks - and we confess that we are not - this filing gives a pretty solid primer on how United States' power production and distribution works. Or doesn't work - depending on your point of view, we suppose. We summarize some high points here but if you're especially nerdy and want to understand the power industry better, read docket number 55. You can find it via the case name link above. 

A big piece of this bankruptcy filing is the debtors' retail electricity business. Retail sellers of electricity are subject to state-applied "Renewable Portfolio Standards" ("RPS") that requires sellers to obtain a certain percentage or amount of its power supply from renewable energy sources. One way to comply is through the purchase of renewable energy credits ("RECs"). Historically, FES has obtained RECs to comply with the RPS via eight power purchase agreements entered into between 2003-2011 with various wind and solar power producers. But apparently things have changed considerably since then. And FES no longer wants the RECs. 

What's changed? Now FES's actual and projected sales are much lower. Per the company in more detail: 

"The main drivers to the collapse in prices include:
• Lower natural gas prices due to continued improvements in natural gas fracking;
• Excess generating capacity due in part to lower than expected load growth;
• Lower cost of construction for renewable technologies, and/or improved performance (e.g., higher capacity factors); and
• Surplus of RECs."

Also, future market prices and outlook for power and RECs are projected materially lower. RPS mandates are less demanding (#MAGA!!). And the supply of RECs is significantly greater. Said another way: energy disruption. From frackers pushing a rapid expansion in nat gas supplies which, in turn, caused plummeting electricity prices and reduced profits. From regulation and the rise of renewables. From energy efficient electronics. 

Per the company, "While the PPAs made sense to FES at the time they were entered into, a dramatic downturn in the energy market and prices of RECs now renders these contracts extremely burdensome and uneconomic to FES." They're also, according to the debtor, unnecessary: FES is phasing out its retail business and, today, expects to sell less than half of the amount of power this year that it sold in 2013. Consequently, FES seeks to reject those PPAs in bankruptcy.

Which is not the only PPA it seeks to reject. The debtor also seeks to shed its multi-party intercompany PPA pursuant to which it and several other power companies purchase power generated via fossil fuel from the Ohio Valley Electric Corporation ("OVEC"). The debtor alleges that this obligation is priced at above-market rates. And because FES sells very little wholesale power emanating out of the OVEC PPA, it stands to lose approximately $268 million from the deal. Yikes. 

The issue, though, is whether the rejection of the nine PPAs will cause disruption to the continued supply of wholesale electricity or impact the reliability of the transmission grid in the regional transmission organization that governs FES and FG. That generally means YOUR electricity - if you live in the Northeast. Naturally, the debtor argues it won't. The federal government may think otherwise. And this is precisely why the company filed an action seeking a declaratory judgment and injunction against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ("FERC") to prevent the feds from hindering -- on the basis of the Federal Power Act -- the company's attempts to reject the PPAs under the federal bankruptcy code. FERC regulates the wholesale power market. It is also why the company has filed a request for assistance from Rick Perry, President Trump's Energy Secretary. This is some real dramatic sh*t folks: a conflict between federal statutes with efforts for executive branch intervention. Someone dial up Daniel Day-Lewis and bring him out of retirement: this could be the next "Lincoln." 

So, in a nutshell: the company filed for bankruptcy because it needs to leverage the bankruptcy code's debtor-friendly provisions to shed some burdensome contracts - including the PPAs. It also needs to address its cost structure, its over-levered balance sheet (in terms of interest payments and near-term maturities), and lease payments under certain sale-leaseback arrangements related to one of its power facilities. Said another way, this is a full-stop restructuring: both operational and financial in nature. There is a "Process Support Agreement" with various parties in interest which reflects a good faith commitment to cooperate on first day motions, implementation of employee retention and severance programs, and establishing a protocol for the disposition of company assets. Sounds great but it doesn't really promise any certainty given the various claims and regulatory issues. Buckle your seat belts. 

Some additional things of note:

  • "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!" (Long Don Corleone). Ironically in the week that Westinghouse Electric Corp. emerged out of its own bankruptcy proceeding, it may now find itself back in bankruptcy court for purposes of adjudicating its $2.36 million trade claim.
  • Coal (#MAGA!!). A first order of business is the debtor is seeking to reject its coal transportation agreements with BNSF Railway Company ((owned by Berkshire Hathaway ($BRK.A)) and Norfolk Southern Railway Company ($NSC). Why? It expects to order 200,000 tons of coal less than the 2.5 million tons of coal minimum requirement delineated in the contract. The debtor claims that rejection of the contract will save it $105.6 million over the next 12 months as it replaces rail with barge transportation. 
  • Commodities. The company also seeks to reject certain uranium supply contracts because (i) it already has enough uranium inventory for the rest of 2018 and 2019, (ii) the spot price for uranium has dropped precipitously since entering into the agreements (from $36 and $48 per pound, respectively, to $22 per pound), and (iii) there is "ample supply of uranium available in the market." 
  • Professional Retentions: Two law firms represent the Ad Hoc Group of Holders of the 6.85% Pass Through Certificates due 2034 because George Davis departed O'Melveny & Myers LLP for Latham & Watkins LLP. 
 
  • Jurisdiction: N.D. of Ohio (Judge Koschik)
  • Capital Structure: $3.8 billion funded debt     
    • FES

      • $700 million secured revolving credit facility, ~$332 million of '21 6.05% unsecured notes; (c) ~$363 million of '39 6.80% unsecured notes; and (d) $150 million revolving credit note with Allegheny Energy Supply Company, LLC under which $102 million is currently outstanding and is due on April 2, 2018. 

    • FG

      • ~$328 million of secured fixed-rate pollution control revenue notes ("PCNs"); ~$677 million of unsecured fixed-rate PCNs

    • NG

      • ~$285 million of secured PCNs; ~$842 million of unsecured PCNs

  • Company Professionals:
    • Legal: Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP (Ira Dizengoff, Lisa Beckerman, Brad Kahn, Scott Alberino, Kate Doorley, David Applebaum, Todd Brecher, Sean O'Donnell, Rachel Presa, Brian Carney, Abid Qureshi, Joseph Sorkin, David Zensky) & (local) Brouse McDowell LPA (Marc Merklin, Kate Bradley, Bridget Franklin) & (conflicts) Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP
    • Financial Advisor/CRO: Alvarez & Marsal North America LLC (Charles Moore)
    • Investment Banker: Lazard Ltd. 
    • Claims Agent: Prime Clerk LLC (*click on company name for docket)
    • Special Nuclear Regulatory Counsel: Hogan Lovells US LLP
    • Industry Consultants: ICF International Inc.
    • Special Litigation Counsel: Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP
    • Tax Consultant: KPMG US LLP
    • Communications Consultant: Sitrick and Company
  • Other Parties in Interest:
    • Board of Directors of FirstEnergy Corp. 
      • Legal: Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLP (Stephen Lerner, Peter Morrison, Julia Furlong)
    • Wilmington Savings Fund Society FSB
      • Legal: KIlpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP (Todd Meyers, Michael Langford) & (local) McDonald Hopkins LLC (Michael Kaczka, Scott Opincar, Maria Carr)
    • Indenture Trustee: Bank of New York Mellon Trust Company, N.A.
    • Indenture Trustee to PCNs: UMB Bank, National Association
    • Ad Hoc Group of Holders of the 6.85% Pass Through Certificates due 2034
      • Legal: O'Melveny & Myers LLP & Latham & Watkins LLP
      • Financial Advisor: Guggenheim Partners LLC
    • Ad Hoc Group of Holders of PCNs issued by FG and NG
      • Legal: Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP 
      • Financial Advisor: GLC Advisors & Co.
    • Contract Counterparty: BNSF Railway Company
      • Legal: Whitmer & Eherman LLC (Mary Whitmer, James Ehrman, Robert Stefancin)
    • Non-debtor Parent: FirstEnergy Corp.
      • Legal: Jones Day (Heather Lennox, Thomas Wilson)

New Chapter 11 - Remington Outdoor Company

Remington Outdoor Company

3/25/18

Remington Outdoor Company, a gun manufacturer, has finally filed for bankruptcy - a day after Americans took to the streets to #MarchforourLives. Ah, bankruptcy irony. The company's operations are truly national in scope; it has manufacturing facilities in New York and Alabama and a primary ammunition plant in Arkansas. Its "principal customers are various mass market retail chains (e.g., Wal-Mart and Dick's Sporting Goods) and specialty retail stores (e.g., Bass Pro Shops and Cabela's) and wholesale distributors (e.g., Sports South)." Guns! #MAGA!!

Why did the company have to file for bankruptcy? We refer you to our mock "First Day Declaration" from February here. Much of it continues to apply. Indeed, our mockery of the change in tone from President Obama to President Trump was spot on: post Trump's election, the company's inventory supply far exceeded demand. The (fictional) threat of the government going house-to-house to collect guns is a major stimulant to demand, apparently. Here is the change in financial performance,

"At the conclusion of 2017, the Debtors had realized approximately $603.4 million in sales and an adjusted EBITDA of $33.6 million. In comparison, in 2015 and 2016, the Debtors had achieved approximately $808.9 million and $865.1 million in sales and $64 million and $119.8 million in adjusted EBITDA, respectively."

Thanks Trump. 

We'd be remiss, however, if we didn't also note that NOWHERE in the company's bankruptcy filings does it mention the backlash against guns or the company's involvement in shootings...namely, the one that occurred in Las Vegas. 

The company, therefore, negotiated with its various lenders and arrived at a restructuring support agreement. The agreement provides for debtor-in-possession credit ($193mm asset-backed DIP + $100mm term loan DIP + $45mm DIP, the latter of which is a roll-up of a bridge loan provided by lenders prior to the filing). Upon the effective date of a plan of reorganization, the third lien lenders and term lenders will own the reorganized company. 

  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware 
  • Capital Structure: $225mm ABL (Bank of America, $114.5mm funded), $550.5mm term loan (Ankura Trust Company LLC), $226mm 7.875% Senior Secured Notes due 2020 (Wilmington Trust NA), $12.5mm secured Huntsville Note     
  • Company Professionals:
    • Legal: Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy LLP (Gregory Bray, Tyson Lomazow, Thomas Kreller, Haig Maghakian) & (local) Pachulski Stang Ziehl & Jones LLP (Laura Davis Jones, Timothy Cairns, Joseph Mulvihill)
    • Financial Advisor: Alvarez & Marsal LLC (Joseph Sciametta)
    • Investment Banker: Lazard (Ari Lefkovits)
    • Claims Agent: Prime Clerk LLC (*click on company name above for free docket access)
  • Other Parties in Interest:
    • DIP ABL Agent ($193mm): Bank of America NA (DIP ABL Lenders: Bank of America NA, Wells Fargo Bank NA, Regions Bank, Branch Banking and Trust Company, Synovus Bank, Fifth Third Bank, Deutsche Bank AG New York Branch)
      • Legal: Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP (Paul Leake, Shana Elberg, Jason Liberi, Cameron Fee)
    • Admin Agent to the DIP TL: Ankura Trust Company LLC
      • Legal: Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP (Damian Schaible, Darren Klein, Michele McGreal, Dylan Consla) & (local) Richards Layton & Finger LLP (Mark Collins, Michael Merchant, Joseph Barsalona)
    • Ad Hoc Group of TL Lenders 
      • Legal: O'Melveny & Myers LLP (John Rapisardi, Andrew Parlen, Joseph Zujkowski, Amalia Sax-Bolder) & (local) Richards Layton & Finger LLP (Mark Collins, Michael Merchant, Joseph Barsalona)
    • Third Lien Noteholders
      • Legal: Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP (Rachel Strickland, Joseph Minias, Debra McElligott) & (local) Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor LLP (Edmon Morton, Allison Mielke)
    • Wells Fargo Bank NA
      • Legal: Otterbourg PC (Andrew Kramer)
    • Cerberus Operations and Advisory Company, LLC
      • Legal: Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP (David Hillman)
    • Reorganized Board of Directors (Anthony Acitelli, Chris Brady, George W. Wurtz III, G.M. McCarroll, Gene Davis, Ron Coburn, Ken D'Arcy)
  • Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors
    • Legal: Fox Rothschild LLP (Michael Menkowitz, Paul Labov, Jason Manfrey, Jesse Harris, Seth Niederman)

Updated: 4/27/18

New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy - Walter Investment Management Corp.

Walter Investment Management Corp. 

  • 11/30/17 Recap: Mortgage banking firm focused primarily on the servicing and origination of loans, including forward and reverse loans, has filed a much-anticipated prepackaged bankruptcy with the intention of shedding nearly $800mm of debt from its balance sheet. The company originates "conventional conforming loans eligible for securitization by government-sponsored enterprises, such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, or eligible for guarantees by government agencies, such as Ginnie Mae MBSs." If that was painful reading, imagine how the lawyers felt drafting that. Even more painful is understanding that this bankruptcy is directly attributable to decisions the company made in the aftermath of the financial crisis. From 2010 through 2015, the company went on a debt-ridden acquisition spree (including once bankrupt Residential Capital LLC) which just goes to show that, while one's crisis is another's opportunity, one's crisis could be one's crisis. With this deleveraging transaction, the company hopes to be more competitive in the market going forward.

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

  • Capital Structure: $100mm '18 RCF, $1.4b '20 TL (Credit Suisse AG), $540mm 7.875% '21 senior unsecured notes (Wilmington Savings Fund Society FSB), $242mm '19 senior subordinated convertible notes (Wells Fargo Bank NA)(public equity: $WAC)

  • Company Professionals:

    • Legal: Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP (Ray Schrock, Matthew Barr, Sunny Singh)

    • Financial Advisor: Alvarez & Marsal North America LLC (David Coles)

    • Investment Banker: Houlihan Lokey Capital Inc. (Reid Snellenbarger, Jeffrey Levine, Jeffrey Lewis, James Page, Daniel Martin, Derek Kuns)

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

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Administrative Agent: Credit Suisse AG

      • Legal: Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP (Brian Resnick, Michelle McGreal)

    • Consenting Term Lenders (Carlson Capital LP, TAO Fund LLC, Credit Suisse Asset Management LLC, Marathon Asset Management LP, Nuveen, Symphony Asset Management LLC, Eaton Vance Management)

      • Legal: Kirkland & Ellis LLP (Patrick Nash, Gregory Pesce)

      • Financial Advisor: FTI Consulting Inc.

    • Consenting Senior Noteholders (Canyon Capital Advisors LLC, CQS UK LLP, Deer Park Road Management Company LP, Lion Point Capital LP, Oaktree Capital Management LP, Omega Advisors Inc.)

      • Legal: Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy LLP (Dennis Dunne, Gregory Bray, Haig Maghakian, Rachel Franzoia)

      • Financial Advisor: Moelis & Co.

    • Prepetition Indenture Trustee: Wilmington Savings Fund Society FSB

      • Legal: Pryor Cashman LLP (Patrick Sibley, Seth Lieverman, Matthew Silverman)

    • Prepetition Convertible Notes Indenture Trustee: Wells Fargo Bank NA

      • Legal: Thompson Hine LLP (Curtis Tuggle)

    • Administrative Agent for DIP Warehouse Facilities: Credit Suisse First Boston Mortgage Capital LLC

      • Legal: Alston & Bird LLP (Gerard Catalanello, Karen Gelernt, James Vincequerra)

    • Fannie Mae

      • Legal: O'Melveny & Myers LLP (Darren Patrick, Steve Warren, Jennifer Taylor)

    • Freddie Mac

      • Legal: McKool Smith (Paul Moak, Kyle Lonergan)

First Day Declaration

First Day Declaration

Updated 11/30/17 10:05 CT

New Chapter 11 Filing - Castex Energy Partners LP

Castex Energy Partners LP

  • 10/17/17 Recap: People have been saying that there is still more oil and gas distress to work its way through the system, particularly offshore-related companies. Well, here, Castex Energy Partners LP, a Houston-based onshore and offshore oil and natural gas exploration and production company located primarily on the coasts of Louisiana and Texas filed for bankruptcy to effectuate a restructuring support agreement with its major parties in interest. The company owns interests in approximately 375 wells (predominantly onshore); it also holds interests in certain seismic interests and specific lands. Like most other oil and gas E&P companies, Castex faced "intense financial pressure" due to the decrease in price of oil and gas and consequent decrease in demand for drilling. The company's EBITDA declined 70% from 2014 to 2016. Yes, you read that right: 70%. Of course, it didn't help that the company made an inopportune decision to invest heavily in offshore development in 2014, outlaying $259mm "in anticipation of future developmental drilling." Timing couldn't have been worse, it seems. Also, the company simply forgot to hedge, apparently; it "was mildly hedged and was exposed to [a massive nat gas] drop." Given all of that, the playbook is pretty un-extraordinary: strapped with a nice chunk of bank debt, the company attempted to make operational cuts to help sustain cash flow while simultaneously running a sales process through Evercore Partners Inc. That process failed. So, now, the company has $4mm of cash on hand and a $15mm DIP credit facility commitment from its prepetition lenders and a restructuring support agreement between it, Capital One Bank, Castex Energy Inc., and the RBL Lenders. The company plans to equitize certain prepetition lenders' debt and emerge from bankruptcy in Q1 of '18. 
  • Jurisdiction: S.D. of Texas (Judge Isgur)
  • Capital Structure: $400mm debt (Capital One Bank (USA) NA)    
  • Company Professionals:
    • Legal: Kelly Hart & Pitre LLP (Louis Phillips, Peter Kopfinger, Amelia Bueche, Patrick Shelby)
    • Restructuring Advisor: Alvarez & Marsal LLC (Ryan Omohundro)
    • Financial Advisor: Evercore Partners Inc.
    • Claims Agent: Prime Clerk LLC (*click on company name above for free docket access)
  • Other Parties in Interest:
    • Castex Energy Inc.
      • Legal: Norton Rose Fulbright LLP (Kristian Gluck, Gregory Wilkes, Shivani Shah)
    • Prepetition & DIP Admin Agent: Capital One Bank (USA) NA & Consenting Lenders (Amegy Bank, Whitney Bank, IberiaBank, Frost Bank, Cross Ocean, Comerica Bank, Citibank NA, Bank of America Credit Products Inc., Capital One NA)
      • Legal: O'Melveny & Myers LLP (George Davis, Michael Lotito, Daniel Shamah) & (local) Porter Hedges LLP (John Higgins, Amy Geise)
      • Financial Advisor: RPA Advisors LLC
    • Riverstone V Castex 2005 Intermediate Holdings LLC
      • Legal: Vinson & Elkins LLP (Bradley Foxman, Paul Heath)

Updated 10/26/17

New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy - Appvion Inc.

Appvion Inc.

  • 10/2/17 Recap: The 100+-year old Appleton Wisconsin-based manufacturer of specialty coated paper has filed for bankruptcy. The company operates in two segments, the thermal paper segment and the carbonless paper segment. The thermal paper segment, on the surface, seems like it would be the most susceptible segment to technological disruption. It is used in four principal end markets: 1) point-of-sale for retail receipts and coupons (PETITION Note: you could understand why this would seemingly be in decline with Square and other P.O.S. stations now emailing receipts - not to mention more and more retail being done online); 2) label products for shipping, warehousing, medical and clean-room supplies (PETITION Query: perhaps the shipping labels offsets the paper receipts?); 3) tags and tickets for airline/baggage applications, events and transportation tickets, lottery and gaming applications (PETITION Note: one of us bought a baseball a scannable paperless ticket the other day from Stubhub...hmmm); and 4) printer, calculator and chart paper for engineering, industrial and medical diagnostic charts. The thermal paper segment is 60% of the company's net sales and has enjoyed annual average growth rates between 1-3%. Somewhat shockingly. PETITION Note: We would have liked to have seen those four sub-segments separated out. Meanwhile, the carbonless paper segment accounts for the other 40% of net sales; it produces coated paper products for design and print applications. The paper is used in a variety of end markets including government, retail, financial, insurance and manufacturing. This segment has been in structural decline since 1994, down approximately 7-11% annually due to the rise of new technologies in digital laser, inkjet and thermal printers. Oh, and electronic communications: the company just throws that in their bankruptcy papers like it's an afterthought. In other words, government and corporations are relying more on email than on the printed page which, duh, obviously impacts this segment. The company owns there manufacturing plants and leases three warehouses; it also has 915 union employees - owed $112.6mm in obligations - who probably ought to get ready to get bent (they are represented by the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union (the “USW”). The company blames the chapter 11 filing on negative industry trends, an unsustainable degree of balance sheet leverage, inability to adequately address near-term maturities and rapidly deteriorating liquidity. Liquidity became even more of an issue after the company issued a "going concern" warning and received an S&P credit downgrade - two things that obviously made suppliers skittish and resulted in demands for disadvantageous trade terms. Recognizing decreased liquidity, the company appears to have taken as much cost out of the business as it can which, from the looks of the company's papers, may be artificially inflating the numbers on the thermal side in the face of technological innovation. PETITION Note: the assumptions the bankers concoct for this side of the business ought to be watched very carefully. Somewhat surprisingly, despite a full slate of advisors and months of lead-up to the filing, this is a classic free-fall into bankruptcy: there doesn't appear to be any restructuring support agreement with the lenders whatsoever. There is, however, a proposed $325.2mm DIP credit facility which would include $85mm of new money and a $240.2mm rollup of pre-petition money (in other words, the full amount of pre-petition TL & RCF monies outstanding, ex-interest). Nothing like being senior in the cap stack. Final PETITION Note: anyone think this will be the last paper-related bankruptcy in, say, the next 12 months? This is starting to look like 2007 all over again...
  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware
  • Capital Structure: $335mm first lien TL & $100 RCF ($240.8mm outstanding included accrued/unpaid interest), $250mm '20 9% second lien senior notes, $24mm A/R securitization, $6mm Industrial Development Bonds, $500k TL with the State of Ohio
  • Company Professionals:
    • Legal: DLA Piper (US) LLP (Richard Chesley, Stuart Brown, Jamila Willis, Kaitlin Edelman)
    • Financial Advisor/CRO: AlixPartners LLP (Alan Holtz, Pilar Tarry, Nathan Kramer)
    • Investment Banker: Guggenheim Securities LLC (Ronen Bojmel)
    • Claims Agent: Prime Clerk LLC (*click on company name above for free docket access)
    • Strategic Communications Consultant: Finsbury LLC
  • Other Parties in Interest:
    • DIP Admin Agent: Wilmington Trust, NA
      • Legal: Covington & Burling LLP (Ronald Hewitt) & (local) Pepper Hamilton LLP (David Fournier)
    • DIP Lenders
      • Legal: O'Melveny & Myers LLP (George Davis, Daniel Shamah, Matthew Kremer, Jennifer Taylor) & (local) Richards Layton & Finger P.A. (Mark Collins, Michael Merchant, Brett Haywood)
    • Prepetition Credit Agreement Admin Agent: Jefferies Finance LLC
      • Legal: Jones Day (Scott Greenberg, Brad Erens) & (local) Pachulski Stang Ziehl & Jones LLP (Laura Davis Jones, Timothy Cairns)
    • Key Bank National Association
      • Legal: Reed Smith LLP (Peter Clark II, Jennifer Knox, Emily Devan)
    • Fifth Third Bank
      • Legal: Vedder Price PC (Michael Eidelman, Michael Edelman) & (local) Potter Anderson & Corroon LLP (Jeremy Ryan, R. Stephen McNeill, D. Ryan Slaugh)
    • Ad Hoc Committee of Holders of the 9% '20 Second Lien Senior Secured Notes (ADK Capital LLC, ALJ Capital Management LLC, Archer Capital Management LP, Armory Advisors LLC, Barings LLC, Mackenzie Investments, MAK Capital One LLC, Nomura Corporate Research and Assset Management, Riva Ridge Master Fund Ltd., Rotation Capital Management LP, Scott's Cove Management LLC)
      • Legal: Stroock Stroock & Lavan LLP (Jayme Goldstein, Samantha Martin) & (local) Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor LLP (Edmon Morton, Matthew Lunn)
    • Second Lien Senior Secured Notes Indenture Trustee: US Bank NA
      • Legal: Foley & Lardner LLP (Richard Bernard, Derek Wright, Mark Prager)
    • Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors
      • Legal: Lowenstein Sandler LLP (Kenneth Rosen, Jeffrey Prol, Wojciech Jung) & (local) Klehr Harrison Harvey Branzburg LLP (Michael Yurkewicz, Morton Branzburg, Sally Veghte)

Updated 10/26/17