⛽️New Chapter 11 Filing - Arsenal Resources Development LLC⛽️

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An “array of resources available for a certain purpose” connotes something positive — an advantage to the party in possession of the resources. Of the arsenal. Bankruptcy sure loves to flip things on their head. We’re looking at you Arsenal Resources Development LLC.

Arsenal Resources Development LLC and 16 affiliated companies filed for bankruptcy in the District of Delaware on Friday. This marked the second prepackaged chapter 11 filing for entities affiliated with the Arsenal enterprise in less than 12 months. In February, Arsenal Energy Holdings LLC, a holding company, filed a 9-day prepackaged bankruptcy to effectuate a debt-for-equity swap of $861mm of subordinated notes. We wrote at the time:

Pursuant to its prepackaged plan of reorganization, the company will convert its subordinated notes to Class A equity. Holders of 95.93% of the notes approved of the plan. The one holdout — the other 4+% — precipitated the need for a chapter 11 filing. Restructuring democracy is a beautiful (and sometimes wasteful) thing.

And:

The company, itself, is about as boring a bankruptcy filer as they come: it is just a holding company with no ops, no employees and, other than a single bank account and its direct and indirect equity interests in certain non-debtor subs, no assets. The equity is privately-held.

More of the action occurred out-of-court upon the recapitalization of the non-debtor operating company. Because of the holdout(s), the company, its noteholders, the opco lenders (Mercuria) and the consenting equityholders agreed to consummate a global transaction in steps: first, the out-of-court recap of the non-debtor opco and then the in-court restructuring of the holdco to squeeze the holdouts. For the uninitiated, a lower voting threshold passes muster in-court than it does out-of-court. Out-of-court, the debtor needed 100% consent. Not so much in BK. (emphasis added).

Critically, the February restructuring did not successfully amend any of the company’s gathering agreements. Trade creditors were unimpaired and unaffected (economically).

With this bankruptcy filing, the operating companies are now in chapter 11. Which makes statements like these…

…technically incorrect. This isn’t a Chapter 22 per se. This isn’t even what we’d dub going forward, a Crapter 22-12 (two bankruptcy filings in 12 months a la Hercules Offshore Inc., another misleadingly-strong-named-failure-of-an-enterprise) or the “Two-Year Rule” violating Crapter 22-24 (two bankruptcy filings in 24 months a la Gymboree).* This is actually David’s Bridal in reverse: an out-of-court restructuring quickly followed in short order by an in-court restructuring. This is, technically, a “reverse Chapter 11.5.” We know…this is getting to be a bit much, but work with us here, folks: when the restructuring process becomes this much of a joke, jokester labels apply.

Founded in 2011, Arsenal is an independent exploration and production company that acquires and develops “unconventional” nat gas resources in the Appalachian Basin; it has 177k acres in the Marcellus Shale. The company is headquartered in Pennsylvania but its primary acreage and horizontal wells exist in West Virginia. The company had $120.1mm of revenue in ‘18 and appears on track to more or less match that in ‘19 ($59.3mm through June’s end, so, okay, maybe “less”).

In its latest Disclosure Statement, the company has the cajones to spitball the following:

“The Company creates value by leveraging its technical expertise and local knowledge to assemble a portfolio of concentrated, high-quality drilling locations, develop its acreage position safely and efficiently and install midstream infrastructure to support its upstream activities.”

Except, all we see here — across two recapitalization transactions in less than 12 months — is value destruction across the enterprise.** To be fair, the natural gas price environment has been far from accommodating over the last year. It is primarily for that reason — and a still too-levered balance sheet — that the company is in bankruptcy. This is telling:

…following the Prior Plan Effective Date, the E&P industry’s declining trend continued through fiscal year 2019, as exhibited by the following chart, depicting a natural gas futures-strip priced on the Prior Plan Effective Date compared against the same strip priced on October 22, 2019. As shown in the chart, since the Prior Plan Effective Date, realized gas prices have been on average 8.1% below futures strip (and the forward looking October 22, 2019 strip is on average 8.6% lower today than February 14, 2019 strip). Indeed, since the Prior Plan Effective Date, through September 30, 2019, 31 E&P companies have filed for chapter 11 protection. This represents a significant increase compared to the 22 E&P companies that filed for chapter 11 during the first 9 months of 2018.

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Compounding matters is the balance sheet:

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The new plan, which has been agreed upon by all three of the major constituencies party to the capital structure, will:

  • provide the Debtors with access to $90mm in DIP credit from Citibank NA, the debtors’ prepetition RBL Lenders and, upon confirmation and emergence from bankruptcy, a $130mm exit facility;

  • convert the term loan and seller notes into 100% of the equity in the reorganized debtors (subject to dilution) from a $100mm equity infusion from lenders Chambers and Mercuria.

This filing also requires — as a condition to the equity infusion — the implementation of amendments to two of five of the debtors’ gathering agreements and the rejection, assumption or consensual amendment of the remaining three agreements. Why? The debtors note:

“…certain of the Gathering Agreements impose significant minimum volume commitments (“MVCs”) at uneconomic fixed prices, thereby requiring ARE, the debtor party to the agreements, to pay for pipeline access, whether or not it is fully utilizing that capacity.”

Significantly, the debtors have reached agreement with the two gathering agreement counterparties on more realistic obligations in the current nat gas environment. Accordingly, the debtors hope to have this case completed by the end of February.


*Credit for “Crapter 11” belongs to loyal reader, David Guess, a Partner, who, congratulations are in order, recently moved over to Greenberg Traurig in Irvine CA. Cheers David!

**That is, unless we factor in the professionals. Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, Alvarez & Marsal LLC, PJT Partners Inc., and Prime Clerk LLC all get a second bite at the apple. Who says that debtor-work doesn’t have recurring revenue??

  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware (Judge Shannon)

  • Capital Structure: See Above.

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP (Michael Torkin, Kathrine McLendon, Nicholas Baker, William Russell Jr., Edward Linden, Jamie Fell) & Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor LLP (Pauline Morgan, Kara Coyle, Ashley Jacobs)

    • Financial Advisor: Alvarez & Marsal LLC

    • Investment Banker: PJT Partners Inc. (Avi Robbins)

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

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Prepetition RBL Agent and DIP Agent: Citibank NA

      • Legal: Paul Hastings LLP (Andrew Tenzer) & Richards Layton & Finger PA (Mark Collins, David Queroli)

      • Financial Advisor: RPA Advisors

    • Gathering Agreement Counterparty: Equitrans Midstream Corporation ($ETRN)

      • Legal: Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC (Mary Caloway, Mark Pfeiffer, TImothy Palmer)

⛽️New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - Sheridan Holding Company II, LLC⛽️

Sheridan Holding Company II, LLC

September 15, 2019

Houston-based Sheridan Holding Company II LLC and 8 affiliated debtors filed a chapter 11 bankruptcy case in the Southern District of Texas with a nearly-fully-consensual prepackaged plan of reorganization. The plan, once effective, would eliminate approximately $900mm(!) of pre-petition debt. The case is supported by a $100mm DIP credit facility (50% new money).

Why so much debt? While this is an oil and gas story much like scores of other companies we’ve seen march through the bankruptcy court doors, the business model, here, is a bit different than usual. Sheridan II is a “fund”; it invests in a portfolio of working interests in mature onshore producing properties in Texas, New Mexico and Wyoming. Like Matt Damon in “Promised Land,” the debtors scour God’s country in search of properties, acquires working interests in those properties, and then seeks to deploy their special sauce (“application of cost-effective reinvestments, operational improvements, and enhanced recovery programs to the acquired assets”) to eke out product and, ultimately, sell that sh*t at a profit. This, as you might suspect, requires a bunch of capital (and equity from LPs like Warburg Pincus).* Hence the $1.1b of debt on balance sheet. All of this is well (pun intended) and good, provided the commodity environment cooperates. Which, we all know all too well, has not been the case in recent years. Peace out equity. Peace out sub debt.

Interestingly, some of that debt was placed not too long ago. Confronted with the oil and gas downturn, the debtors took the initiative to avoid bankruptcy; they cut off distributions to LPs, took measures to decrease debt, cut opex, capex and SG&A, and engaged in a hedging program. In 2017, the debtors raised $455mm of the subordinated term loan (with PIK interest galore), while also clawing back 50% of distributions previously made to LPs to the tune of $64mm. Everyone needed to have skin in the game. Alas, these measures were insufficient.

Per this plan, that skin is seared. The revolving lenders and term lenders will receive 95% of the common stock in the reorganized entity with the subordinated term lenders getting the remaining 5%. YIKES. The debtors estimate that the subordinated term lenders will recover 2.6% of the amount of their claims under the proposed plan. 2.6% of $514mm = EPIC VALUE DESTRUCTION. Sweeeeeeeeet. Of course, the limited partners are wistfully looking at that 2.6%. Everything is relative.

*****

Some additional notes about this case:

  • The hope to have confirmation in 30 days.

  • The plan includes the ability to “toggle” to a sale pursuant to a plan if a buyer for the assets emerges. These “toggle” plans continue to be all of the rage these days.

  • The debtors note that this was a “hard fought” negotiation. We’ve lost count of how many times professionals pat themselves on the backs by noting that they arrived at a deal, resolving the issues of various constituencies with conflicting interests and positions. First, enough already: this isn’t exactly Fallujah. You’re a bunch of mostly white males (the CEO of the company notwithstanding), sitting around a luxury conference table in a high rise in Manhattan or Houston. Let’s keep some perspective here, people. Second, THIS IS WHAT YOU GET PAID $1000+/hour to do. If you CAN’T get to a deal, then that really says something, particularly in a situation like this where the capital structure isn’t all-too-complex.

  • The bulk of the debtors’ assets were purchased from SandRidge Energy in 2013. This is like bankruptcy hot potato.

  • Independent directors are really becoming a cottage industry. We have to say, if you’re an independent director across dozens of companies, it probably makes sense to keep Quinn Emanuel on retainer. That way, you’re less likely to see them on the opposite side of the table (and when you do, you may at least temper certain bulldog tendencies). Just saying.

Finally, the debtors’ bankruptcy papers provide real insights into what’s happening in the oil and gas industry today — particularly in the Permian Basin. The debtors’ assets mostly rest in the Permian, the purported crown jewel of oil and gas exploration and production. Except, as previously discussed in PETITION, production of oil out of the Permian ain’t worth as much if, say, you can’t move it anywhere. Transportation constraints, while relaxing somewhat, continue to persist. Per the company:

“Prices realized by the Debtors for crude oil produced and sold in the Permian Basin have been further depressed since 2018 due to “price differentials”—the difference in price received for sales of oil in the Permian Basin as compared to sales at the Cushing, Oklahoma sales hub or sales of sour crude oil. The differentials are largely attributable to take-away capacity constraints caused by increases in supply exceeding available transportation infrastructure. During 2018, Permian Basin crude oil at times sold at discounts relative to sales at the Cushing, Oklahoma hub of $16 per barrel or more. Price differentials have narrowed as additional take-away capacity has come online, but crude oil still sells in the Permian Basin at a discount relative to Cushing prices.”

So, there’s that teeny weeny problemo.

If you think that’s bad, bear in mind what’s happening with natural gas:

“Similarly, the Henry Hub natural gas spot market price fell from a peak of $5.39 per million British thermal units (“MMBtu”) in January 2014 to $1.73 per MMBtu by March 2016, and remains at approximately $2.62 per MMBtu as of the Petition Date. In 2019, natural gas prices at the Waha hub in West Texas have at times been negative, meaning that the Debtors have at times either had to shut in production or pay purchasers to take the Debtors’ natural gas.”

It’s the natural gas equivalent of negative interest rates. 😜🙈

*All in, this fund raised $1.8b of equity. The Sheridan Group, the manager of the debtors, has raised $4.6b across three funds, completing nine major acquisitions for an aggregate purchase price of $5.7b. Only Sheridan II, however, is a debtor (as of now?).

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

  • Capital Structure: $66 RCF (Bank of America NA), $543.1mm Term Loan (Bank of America NA), $514mm ‘22 13.5%/17% PIK Subordinated Term Loans (Wilmington Trust NA) — see below.

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Kirkland & Ellis LLP (Joshua Sussberg, Steven Serajeddini, Spencer Winters, Stephen Hackney, Rachael Marie Bazinski, Jaimie Fedell, Casey James McGushin) & Jackson Walker LLP (Elizabeth Freeman, Matthew Cavenaugh)

    • Board of Directors: Alan Carr, Jonathan Foster

      • Legal: Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP

    • Financial Advisor: AlixPartners LLP

    • Investment Banker: Evercore Group LLC

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

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Administrative agent and collateral agent under the Sheridan II Term Loan Credit Agreements: Bank of America NA

      • Legal: Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP (Damian Schaible, Stephen Piraino, Nathaniel Sokol)

      • Financial Advisor: Houlihan Lokey Capital Inc.

    • Administrative Agent under the Sheridan II RBL: Bank of America NA

      • Legal: Vinson & Elkins LLP (William Wallander, Bradley Foxman, Andrew Geppert)

      • Financial Advisor: Houlihan Lokey Capital Inc.

    • Ad Hoc Group of Subordinated Term Loans (Pantheon Ventures US LP, HarbourVest Partners LP)

      • Legal: Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP (Matthew Barr, Gabriel Morgan, Clifford Carlson)

      • Financial Advisor: PJT Partners LP

    • Limited Partner: Wilberg Pincus LLC

      • Legal: Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP (Brian Lennon)

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Source: First Day Declaration

Source: First Day Declaration

⛽️New Chapter 11 Filing - Alta Mesa Resources Inc. ($AMR)⛽️

Alta Mesa Resources Inc.

September 11, 2019

Man. We nailed this one. Once Alta Mesa Holdings LP’s borrowing base got redetermined down, it was f*cked.*

As we’ve previously covered, Alta Mesa Resources Inc. is an independent oil and nat gas exploration and production company focused on the Sooner Trend Anadarko Basin Canadian and Kingfisher County (otherwise known as the “STACK”) in Oklahoma. It has an upstream business and, through a non-debtor entity it is now suing in an adversary proceeding (Kingfisher Midstream LLC), a midstream business.

The fact that another oil and gas company is now in bankruptcy** is, frankly, fairly uninteresting: the debtors blame the usual factors for their demise. Depressed oil prices ✅. Over-leverage (here, a $368mm RBL and $509mm in unsecured notes)✅. Liquidity constraints✅. We’ve now seen these story — and those factors — several dozen times this year alone. Like many of its oil and gas predecessors, these debtors, too, will explore a “value-maximizing sale of all or substantially all of the [d]ebtors’ assets” while also looking at a restructuring along with non-debtor affiliates. Par for the course.

What’s most interesting to us on this one — and relatively rare in bankruptcy — is the fact that the company emanated out of a “special purpose acquisition company or “SPAC” for short (these are also known as “blank check” companies). For the uninitiated, SPACs are generally shady-as-sh*t investment vehicles with pseudo-private-equity-like characteristics (including the enrichment of the sponsors) that are offered via IPO to idiot public equity investors who are enamored with putting money behind allegedly successful founders/investors. They have a long and sordid history but, as you might imagine in frothy AF markets like the one we’re currently experiencing, they tend to rise in popularity when people have lots of money to put to work and limited avenues for yield baby yield. According to this “SPAC 101” presentation by the law firm Winston & Strawn LLP, “[i]n 2017, there were 32 SPAC IPOs raising a total of $8.7 billion, the highest total since 2007.” That number rose above $10b in 2018. Some recent prominent examples of SPACs include: (a) the proposed-but-called-off combination of SPAC Leo Holdings Corp. ($LHC) with Chuck E. Cheese, (b) Chamath Palihapitiya’s investment in Richard Branson’s Virgin Galacticspace initiative via his $600mm spac, Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings Corp ($IPOA), and (c) something closer to home for distressed players, Mudrick Capital Acquisition Corporation ($MUDS.U), founded by Jason Mudrick. The latter, despite being 18 month post-close, has yet to deploy its capital (which is notable because, typically, SPACs have a two-year life span before capital must be returned to investors).

In late 2016, Riverstone Investment Group LLC formed its SPAC and commenced an IPO in Q1 ‘17. The IPO generated proceeds of over $1b. These proceeds were placed in a trust account — standard for SPACs — and ultimately used to partially fund the “business combination” that started the sh*tshow that we all now know as Alta Mesa. That transaction closed in February 2018. Public shareholders were now in the mix.

So, how did that work out for them? Well, here we are:

So, yeah. Add this one to the list of failed SPACs. The lawyers sure have: AMR, certain of its current and former directors, Riverstone Investment Group LLC and Riverstone Holdings LLC were named defendants in securities class action lawsuits in both United States District Courts for the Southern District of New York and the Southern District of Texas that allege that the defendants “disseminated proxy materials containing materially false or misleading statements in connection with the Business Combination….” The debtors are obviously calling these claims “meritless.”

So, there you have it folks. An inauspicious start has brought us to a suspect penultimate chapter. There is no purchaser in tow, no clear direction for the bankruptcy proceeding, and an adversary proceeding that faces some recent unfavorable precedent (albeit in a different, less favorable, jurisdiction).

We can’t wait to see where this flaming hot mess goes from here.


*We wrote:

PETITION Note: Ruh roh. Just like that, the lenders have put the squeeze on AMH. AMH meet world of hurt. World of hurt, meet AMH.

“As provided under the Alta Mesa RBL, AMH will elect to repay the excess utilization in 5 equal monthly installments of $32.5 million, the first of which will be due in September 2019. As of July 31, 2019, AMH had cash on hand of approximately $79.7 million.”

PETITION Note: HAHAHAHAHA, yeah, sure it will. And we have a bridge to sell you.

Re-engage the bankruptcy countdown. Maybe…MAYBE…some crazy macroeconomic shock will occur and oil prices will shoot up to $1900/barrel. Like, maybe a meteor strikes Earth and annihilates Saudi Arabia, completely wiping it off the map. In that scenario, yeah, sure, AMH is copacetic. 

Interestingly, as we write this, Yemeni Houthi rebels are taking credit for a drone attack that has shut down half of Saudi Arabia’s oil output. Per the WSJ:

The production shutdown amounts to a loss of about five million barrels a day, the people said, roughly 5% of the world’s daily production of crude oil. The kingdom produces 9.8 million barrels a day.

Meteors. Drones. Let’s not split hairs.

**10% of the top 30 creditors features energy companies with prior BK experience including greatest hits like Chaparral Energy LLC, Weatherford US LP (another recent Latham client), and Basic Energy Services LP.


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

  • Capital Structure: $368mm RBL (Wells Fargo Bank NA), $509mm 7.785% unsecured notes (US Bank NA)

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Latham & Watkins LLP (George Davis, Caroline Reckler, Annemarie Reilly, Brett Neve, Andrew Sorkin) & Porter Hedges LLP (John F. Higgins IV, Eric English, Aaron Power, M. Shane Johnson)

    • Board of Directors: James Hackett (Riverstone), Pierre Lapeyre Jr. (Riverstone), David Leuschen (Riverstone), Donald Dimitrievich (HPS), William McCullen, Sylvia Kerrigan, Donald Sinclair, Jeffrey Tepper, Diana Walters, Patrick Bartels, Marc Beilinson)

    • Financial Advisor/CRO: AlixPartners LLP (Robert Albergotti)

    • Investment Banker: Perella Weinberg Partners (Kevin Cofsky)

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

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Ad Hoc Noteholder Group (Bain Capital Credit LP, Firefly Value Partners LP, Leroy DH LP, PGIM Inc., PPM America Inc.)

      • Legal: Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP (Damian Schaible, Angela Libby, Stephanie Massman & (local) Rapp & Krock PC (Henry Flores, Kenneth Krock)

    • Issuing Lender: Wells Fargo Bank NA

      • Legal: Bracewell LLP (William A. Wood III, Jason G. Cohen)

    • Unsecured Note Indenture Trustee: US Bank NA

      • Legal: Blank Rome LLP (Ira Herman, James Grogan)

    • Creditor: Kingfisher Midstream LLC

      • Legal: Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP (Susheel Kirpalani, Patrica Tomasco, Devin va der Hahn)

    • Equity Sponsors: Riverstone Investment Group LLC/HPS Investment Partners LLC

      • Legal: Vinson & Elkins LLP (David Meyer, Michael Garza, Harry Perrin)

    • Equity Sponsor: Bayou City Energy Management LLC

      • Legal: Kirkland & Ellis LLP (Joshua Sussberg, Gregory Pesce, Anna Rotman)

    • Equity Sponsors: Orbis Investment Management Limited, High Mesa Holdings LP,

⛽️New Chapter 11 Filing - PetroShare Corp.⛽️

PetroShare Corp.

September 4, 2019

When most people think of oil and gas they think of Texas. This makes sense given production volume but there are other areas of exploration and production in the United States that garner far less attention. Like Colorado.

Bankruptcy professionals have some experience already in Colorado. Bonanza Creek Energy Inc. ($BCEI), as just one example, filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in early 2017. Given all of the oil and gas activity in bankruptcy court lately, 2019 is the new 2017.

CASE IN POINT (wink to one of our readers), PetroShare Corp. ($PRHR), a developer of crude oil and gas properties in the Rocky Mountain/mid-continent region of the US, filed for bankruptcy on September 4, 2019, in the District of Colorado. The debtor did us a favor in filing its minutes from a March 25, 2019 board meeting. It provided a bit of unintentional comedy.

Noting that, amidst a default under its secured credit agreement, the debtor’s lender representatives both resigned from the board and terminated negotiations related to a second sale of certain company assets (PETITION Note: the company had already sold $15.5mm of non-operating assets, the proceeds of which are held by the company’s lenders), the minutes reflect how recent political machinations affected the oil and gas environment in Colorado:

“…in terminating the negotiations, the Lender group and the potential equity group cited the recent dramatic changes in the Colorado political climate reflected in the proposed SB 19-181 which seeks to change the charter and direction of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and the potential detriment to local oil and gas development. He also noted the recently-approved 6 month moratorium on new drilling permits in Adams County, Colorado, where the bulk of the Company’s properties are located.”

Whoops. It’s hard to generate revenue when your ability to produce properties is hindered by new local regulations. That’s what you call a post-investment intervening negative externality.

Consequently, the company engaged in discussions with its lenders. Per the minutes:

“…the representatives of the Administrative Agent suggested that the Company consider other-recapitalization options including, but not limited to, filing a friendly Chapter 11 bankruptcy and then working with the Lenders to file a pre-packaged or similar reorganization plan to address trade debt, the senior loan and the unsecured noteholders.”

To which we have to say:

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Typically a pre-packaged bankruptcy, by definition, is agreed to PRIOR TO a bankruptcy filing. It’s not all willy-nilly, “we filed, now let’s be ‘friendly’ and agree to sh*t.” Everything about that entry is amusing.

Subsequently, the company discussed a variety of options. Do they attempt additional sales? Do they solicit private equity interest? Is bankruptcy the right option. Per the minutes:

“Mr. Witsell passed along information that he had received from the law firm Polsinelli on the benefits and detriments of pursuing bankruptcy.”

It all sounds so cavalier. It’s like a pitch deck from Polsinelli just fell from the sky into management’s laps. These are the pros (shed debt, free and clear sales, screw trade) and these are the cons (stigma, court supervision, expensive AF)! Ready, set, FILE! Gotta love bankruptcy!

Jokes aside, the company attempted to avoid bankruptcy (as you might expect) and thought they had a buyer lined up that would consummate an out-of-court transaction. That buyer fell through, however, at the 11th hour. This left the company with a backup bidder who required a chapter 11 filing (because, like, they’re apparently a bit more sophisticated??). The company, therefore, will use the chapter 11 process to continue to market and try and maximize value in a competitive auction — assuming competitive bidders emerge in the midst of considerable regulatory headwinds.

  • Jurisdiction: D. of Colorado (Judge Tyson)

  • Capital Structure: $14.3mm secured debt, $9.3mm convertible notes

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Polsinelli PC (Trey Monsour, James Billingsley, William Meyer, James Bird, Caryn Wang)

    • Financial Advisor/CRO: MACCO Restructuring Group LLC (Drew McManigle, Kathy Mayle)

    • Investment Banker: Seaport Global Securities LLC

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

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Secured Lenders: Providence Wattenberg, 5NR Wattenberg

    • Large Equityholders: Providence Energy Operators LLC & Cede & Co.

⛽️New Chapter 11 Filing - EPIC Companies LLC⛽️

EPIC Companies LLC

August 26, 2019

Another day, another oil-related bankruptcy filing. Houston-based Epic Companies LLC and six affiliated companies filed for chapter 11 on August 26, 2019 in the Southern District of Texas (Judge Jones presiding) to effectuate a sale to its pre-petition and post-petition lender, White Oak Global Advisors LLC.* White Oak intends to credit bid $48.9mm and assume $40mm of the debtors’ debt. It then hopes to flip the assets — that’s right, flip the assets — to a secondary buyer, Alliance Energy Services LLC, for $40mm and the assumption of $35mm of debt. The debtors hope to consummate the transaction within 65 days. This is bankruptcy today folks: super speedy cases tied to aggressive DIP milestones. Why? In large part, because bankruptcy is too frikken inefficient and expensive to go about a sale transaction otherwise. This is why it’s imperative to have a robust pre-petition marketing process. Here, there’s the added element of the secondary sale.

Formed in Q1 2018, the debtors service the oil and gas industry through heavy lift, diving and marine, specialty cutting and well-plugging and abandonment services. Said another way, these guys work with oil and gas companies at the end of the well lifecycle.

Speaking of the end of lifecycles, the company has been in trouble from the get-go. After spending a year acquiring assets, the debtors already had to start divesting by April of 2019. White Oak foreclosed on equity interests in three entities in July 2019. The company still owns three heavy lift and diving vessels, other equipment, IP, and real property. They owe $106.9mm under a senior loan** and $124.8mm under a junior loan. Unsecured trade debt is $30mm. Other liabilities include litigations against the debtors’ vessels.

Why is this company in bankruptcy? They’re very to the point:

Like many in their industry, the downturn in oil and natural gas prices and other industry-related challenges negatively impacted the Debtors' liquidity position.

Consequently, White Oak called a default and has been driving the bus ever since: in July, White Oak informed management that it was done sinking money into this morass. Five days later, the debtors terminated 400 employees. 28 employees remain. Sadly, their future is decidedly more uncertain today than it was even two months ago.

*Prior to the voluntary filing, one of the debtors was involuntaried in Louisiana.

**Once White Oak exercised remedies, it then restated the debtors’ senior debt into three separate facilities. Acqua Liana, as junior lender, followed suit vis-a-vis the junior loan.

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

  • Capital Structure: see above.

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Porter Hedges LLP (John Higgins, M. Shane Johnson, Genevieve Graham)

    • Financial Advisor/CRO: S3 Advisors LLC (“G2”) (Jeffrey Varsalone)

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

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Prepetition Senior Loan Lender & Postpetition Lender & Stalking Horse Purchaser: White Oak Global Advisors LLC

    • Prepetition Junior Loan Lender: Acqua Liana Capital Partners LLC

⛽️New Chapter 22 Bankruptcy Filing - PES Holdings LLC⛽️

PES Holdings LLC

July 21, 2019

Picture the private equity associate. He’s sitting at his desk, twiddling his thumbs, looking for something to do. All is good in the world: the portfolio is humming along, he hasn’t gotten roped into a lose/lose golf tournament with the senior partners in a while, and he just wants to lay low and ride out the summer if he can. Then, suddenly, on one fateful summer day in June, one of his portfolio companies just up -and-decides to randomly explode — or, as the company puts it, suffer a “historic, large-scale, catastrophic accident.” Suddenly he’s mopping the floor with his jaw.

This sudden turn of events is particularly stupefying when you consider that the portfolio company — PES Holdings LLC, aka Philadelphia Energy Solutions — happens to be a 150 year-old oil refining complex that also happens to be (i) the largest on the United States Eastern seaboard (representing approximately 28% of the crude oil refining capacity on the east coast), and (ii) an employer of 950 employees. What are the possible knee-jerk reactions here? Are they:

  1. “Oh sh*t, there goes our portfolio for the year!”

  2. “F******ck, did our investment literally just go up in smoke?”

  3. “Am I going to have a job tomorrow?”

Then there are likely the secondary considerations:

  1. “How will the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the City of Philadelphia fulfill their energy needs?”

  2. “Oh no! Did anyone die??!?”

That’s right: we’re cynical AF. After those two waves of initial thoughts and after a deep breath, we bet these were the next questions:

  1. “Do we have to file this thing for ANOTHER bankruptcy now?”

  2. “How robust is our insurance coverage? What are our insurance premiums and can we keep paying them to ensure coverage?”

  3. “Is this an opportunity? How do we transfer all of the risk and best position ourselves to drive equity value here?”

The latter two considerations — as heartless and lacking in empathy as they may be — are highly realistic. And highly relevant, considering the explosion and attendant fire on June 21 forced the company to shut down its plant. The timing couldn’t have been worse: the explosion took place mere days after the company finalized the implementation of a new intermediation facility. Now, though, all “momentum” is lost: the company is currently inoperable and will require an extensive rebuild: at limited capacity and with massive fixed operational costs, the company would have burned (pun most definitely intended) through $100mm in liquidity within a few weeks. Cue the chapter 22 bankruptcy filing.*

Of course, prior to the filing, the company engaged in dialogue with its insurers:

The Debtors also immediately began a process to engage with their insurers—as it relates to property and business interruption insurance claims for the losses caused by the Girard Point Incident—to advance a dialogue toward an immediate advance and a global resolution that will allow the Debtors to restore their operations. The Debtors have yet to obtain such an advance.

Show us an insurer who is ready and willing to fork over proceeds on a moments notice and we’ll show you a bridge we’re selling.

The Debtors’ goal in the near term remains continuing to preserve the safe operation of the Refining Complex while they seek to recover as quickly as possible on their property and business interruption insurance claims and pursue various transactions to preserve their operations and maximize value.

We’re not talking about peanuts here, folks:

The Debtors have $1.25 billion in property and business interruption insurance coverage to protect against these kinds of losses (in addition to other insurance policies that cover other aspects of the Girard Point Incident). The Debtors are working with the insurers under that program to make the Debtors whole for the physical loss of the refinery and the resulting interruption of the Debtors’ business. These insurance proceeds are the very heart of these chapter 11 cases: the sooner the Debtors can recover, the sooner the business can complete its recovery.

While the company waits for the insurers to cough up some cash, it, obviously, needs to focus on safety issues and fire-related cleanup. To that end, it secured a $100mm DIP commitment from certain of its term loan lenders and continues to engage in discussions with ICBC Standard Bank PLC about a dual-DIP structure that would avail the company of even more liquidity. Ultimately, the company hopes to reorganize as a going concern. The extent to which the insurers play ball will dictate whether that’s possible. Something tells us there are some risk analysts combing through those policies with a fine tooth looking for any and all exemptions that they can pull out of their a$$es.

*According to the company, the first chapter 11 filing: “(i) secured a capital infusion of approximately $260 million; (ii) extended the Debtors’ debt maturities through 2022; (iii) reduced the Debtors’ anticipated debt service obligations by approximately $35 million per year; (iv) provided the Debtors with access to a new intermediation facility; and (v) provided the Debtors with relief from certain regulatory obligations.

  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware (Judge Gross)

  • Capital Structure: see below

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Kirkland & Ellis LLP (Edward Sassower, Steven Serajeddini, Matthew Fagen, Michael Slade, Allyson Smith Weinhouse, Patrick Venter, Nacif Taousse, Whitney Becker) & Pachulski Stang Ziehl & Jones LLP (Laura Davis Jones, James O’Neill, Peter Keane)

    • CRO: Stein Advisors LLC (Jeffrey Stein)

    • Financial Advisor: Alvarez & Marsal LLC

    • Investment Banker: PJT Partners LP

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

  • Other Parties in Interest:

Screen Shot 2019-07-22 at 5.41.29 PM.png

⛽️New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - Shale Support Global Holdings LLC⛽️

Shale Support Global Holdings LLC

July 11, 2019

When privately-owned companies that most people have never heard of file for bankruptcy, it naturally raises the following logical question: with oil and gas once again imploding, how many off-the-run companies are going to wind their way into bankruptcy court? 🤔 We reckon quite a number.

Shale Support Global Holdings LLC, a private Louisiana-based proppant supplier to oilfield servicing companies that, in turn, service E&P companies, filed for bankruptcy in the Southern District of Texas. The company and 7 affiliated debtors (the “Debtors”) have little by way of assets ($3.15mm) and much more by way of debt ($127.8mm). MOR Bison LLC and BBC Holding LLC own 69.24% and 29.67% of the company, respectively.

The company started in 2014 to solve the problem of expensive logistics costs emanating out of the transport of sand to frac sites. The company sought to vertically integrate the ownership of sand mines with, among other things, a drying facility and a transload facility; its mines are in Mississippi. Given what has occurred in oil and gas country since 2014, it seems abundantly clear that the timing here was just a bit off. “How off,” you ask? Per the Debtors:

Demand for frac sand is significantly influenced by the level of well completions by E&P and OFS companies, which depends largely on the current and anticipated profitability of developing oil and natural gas reserves. As such, Shale Support’s business is highly correlated with well completions, which is, in-turn, is dependent on both commodity prices and producers’ ability to deliver oil to the market. Over the past five years, commodity prices have been highly volatile resulting in an unpredictable demand curve and a significant amount of OFS and E&P bankruptcies. Compounding these demand issues, Shale Support operates in a highly-competitive industry that has seen a dramatic increase in supply. This new supply has come from basin-specific regional producers (that have dramatically lower logistic costs) as well as larger, often better-capitalized, competitors. Regional suppliers and Shale Support’s larger competitors are both in a position to exert significant, downward pressure on pricing for proppants.

Said another way, as off as humanly possible. With a supply/demand imbalance in 2H ‘18, the company saw revenue fall over 40% in 2018. 😬 This was in large part due to the fact that, despite falling proppants prices, the Debtors are locked in to fixed cost contracts with railcar transport providers. With this mix plus over $127mm in outstanding debt obligations, liquidity became an issue.

For over a year now, the Debtors have been in a state of perpetual marketing. Piper Jaffrey & Co., the Debtors’ banker, could not, however, locate a buyer. In the midst of discussions with potential strategic and financial buyers, the price of frac sand continued to fall. Per the Debtors:

Unsurprisingly, no party submitted an indicative expression of interest, a non-binding offer or a valuation of Shale Support. The stated justification from these parties centered around market conditions, location of the reserves, quality of sand, availability of buyer cash, and consistent underperformance of business relative to forecasts.

Efforts to refinance the debt were equally unsuccessful given the declining asset value upon which a new loan would be based. Ultimately, the Debtors defaulted under their prepetition term loan agreement and, over the course of multiple months of waivers, negotiated with their lenders with the hope of “building consensus around a de-leveraging transaction.” Spoiler alert: there’s no prepackaged plan on file here nor is there a bid procedures motion accompanied by a stalking horse asset purchase agreement so suffice it to say that whatever consensus there might be is limited to the commitment of a $16.6mm DIP credit facility. And that forces the issue: under the DIP milestones, the Debtors must confirm a plan of reorganization within 98 days. Will the lenders equitize? Given the astounding job the first day papers do of making the assets seem attractive, is there a chance in hell a buyer emerges? Stay tuned.

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

  • Capital Structure: $116mm ‘21 10% cash/12% PIK Term Loan (including interest, etc.), $11.6mm ‘21 ABL (Siena)

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Greenberg Traurig LLP (Shari Heyen, Karl Burrer, David Eastlake, Eric Howe)

    • Financial Advisor/CRO: Alvarez & Marsal LLC (Gary Barton)

    • Investment Banker: Piper Jaffray & Co. (Richard Shinder)

    • Claims Agent: Donlin Recano & Company Inc. (*click on the link above for free docket access)

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Prepetition Term Loan & DIP Agent ($16.6mm): BSP Agency LLC (DIP Lenders: Providence Debt Fund III LP, Benefit Street Debt Fund IV LP, and Benefit Street Partners SMA LM LP).

      • Legal: Baker Botts LLP (Emanuel Grillo)

    • Prepetition Revolving Lender: Siena Lending Group LLC

      • Legal: Thompson Coburn LLP (David Warfield, Victor A. Des Laurier)

⛽️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 - Legacy Reserves Inc.⛽️

Even at 95 years old, you can’t get one past Charlie Munger. #Legend.

The Permian Basin in West Texas is where it’s at in the world of oil and gas exploration and production. Per Wikipedia:

As of 2018, the Permian Basin has produced more than 33 billion barrels of oil, along with 118 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. This production accounts for 20% of US crude oil production and 7% of US dry natural gas production. While the production was thought to have peaked in the early 1970s, new technologies for oil extraction, such as hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling have increased production dramatically. Estimates from the Energy Information Administration have predicted that proven reserves in the Permian Basin still hold 5 billion barrels of oil and approximately 19 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

oil gushing.gif

And it may be even more prolific than originally thought. Norwegian research firm Rystad Energy recently issued a report indicating that Permian projected output was already above 4.5mm barrels a day in May with volumes exceeding 5mm barrels in June. This staggering level of production is pushing total U.S. oil production to approximately 12.5mm barrels per day in May. That means the Permian now accounts for 36% of US crude oil production — a significant increase over 2018. Normalized across 365 days, that would be a 1.64 billion barrel run rate. This is despite (a) rigs coming offline in the Permian and (b) natural gas flaring and venting reaching all-time highs in Q1 ‘19 due to a lack of pipelines. Come again? That’s right. The Permian is producing in quantities larger than pipelines can accommodate. Per Reuters:

Producers burned or vented 661 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) in the Permian Basin of West Texas and eastern New Mexico, the field that has driven the U.S. to record oil production, according to a new report from Rystad Energy.

The Permian’s first-quarter flaring and venting level more than doubles the production of the U.S. Gulf of Mexico’s most productive gas facility, Royal Dutch Shell’s Mars-Ursa complex, which produces about 260 to 270 mmcfd of gas.

The Permian isn’t alone in this, however. The Bakken shale field in North Dakota is also flaring at a high level. More from Reuters:

Together, the two oil fields on a yearly basis are burning and venting more than the gas demand in countries that include Hungary, Israel, Azerbaijan, Colombia and Romania, according to the report.

All of which brings us to Legacy Reserves Inc. ($LGCY). Despite the midstream challenges, one could be forgiven for thinking that any operators engaged in E&P in the Permian might be insulated from commodity price declines and other macro headwinds. That position, however, would be wrong.

Legacy is a publicly-traded energy company engaged in the acquisition, development, production of oil and nat gas properties; its primary operations are in the Permian Basin (its largest operating region, historically), East Texas, and in the Rocky Mountain and Mid-Continent regions. While some of these basins may produce gobs of oil and gas, acquisition and production is nevertheless a HIGHLY capital intensive endeavor. And, here, like with many other E&P companies that have recently made their way into the bankruptcy bin, “significant capital” translates to “significant debt.”

Per the Company:

Like similar companies in this industry, the Company’s oil and natural gas operations, including their exploration, drilling, and production operations, are capital-intensive activities that require access to significant amounts of capital.  An oil price environment that has not recovered from the downturn seen in mid-2014 and the Company’s limited access to new capital have adversely affected the Company’s business. The Company further had liquidity constraints through borrowing base redeterminations under the Prepetition RBL Credit Agreement, as well as an inability to refinance or extend the maturity of the Prepetition RBL Credit Agreement beyond May 31, 2019.

This is the company’s capital structure:

Legacy Cap Stack.png

The company made two acquisitions in mid-2015 costing over $540mm. These acquisitions proved to be ill-timed given the longer-than-expected downturn in oil and gas. Per the Company:

In hindsight, despite the GP Board’s and management’s favorable view of the potential future opportunities afforded by these acquisitions and the high-caliber employees hired by the Company in connection therewith, these two acquisitions consumed disproportionately large amounts of the Company’s liquidity during a difficult industry period.

WHOOPS. It’s a good thing there were no public investors in this thing who were in it for the high yield and favorable tax treatment.*

Yet, the company was able to avoid a prior bankruptcy when various other E&P companies were falling like flies. Why was that? Insert the “drillco” structure here: the company entered into a development agreement with private equity firm TPG Special Situations Partners to drill, baby, drill (as opposed to acquire). What’s a drillco structure? Quite simply, the PE firm provided capital in return for a wellbore interest in the wells that it capitalized. Once TPG clears a specified IRR in relation to any specific well, any remaining proceeds revert to the operator. This structure — along with efforts to delever through out of court exchanges of debt — provided the company with much-needed runway during a rough macro patch.

It didn’t last, however. Liquidity continued to be a pervasive problem and it became abundantly clear that the company required a holistic solution to its balance sheet. That’s what this filing will achieve: this chapter 11 case is a financial restructuring backed by a Restructuring Support Agreement agreed to by nearly the entirety of the capital structure — down through the unsecured notes. Per the Company:

The Global RSA contemplates $256.3 million in backstopped equity commitments, $500.0 million in committed exit financing from the existing RBL Lenders, the equitization of approximately $815.8 million of prepetition debt, and payment in full of the Debtors’ general unsecured creditors.

Said another way, the Permian holds far too much promise for parties in interest to walk away from it without maintaining optionality for the future.

*Investors got burned multiple times along the way here. How did management do? Here is one view (view thread: it’s precious):

😬

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

  • Capital Structure: See above.

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Sidley Austin LLP (Duston McFaul, Charles Persons, Michael Fishel, Maegan Quejada, James Conlan, Bojan Guzina, Andrew O’Neill, Allison Ross Stromberg)

    • Financial Advisor: Alvarez & Marsal LLC (Seth Bullock, Mark Rajcevich)

    • Investment Banker: Perella Weinberg Partners (Kevin Cofsky)

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

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors (Wilmington Trust NA, Dalton Investments LLC, Paul Drueke, John Dinkel, Nicholas Mumford)

    • GSO Capital Partners LP

      • Legal: Latham & Watkins LLP (George Davis, Adam Goldberg, Christopher Harris, Zachary Proulx, Brett Neve, Julian Bulaon) & (local) Porter Hedges LLP (John Higgins, Eric English, M. Shane Johnson)

    • DIP Lender: Wells Fargo Bank NA

      • Legal: Orrick LLP (Raniero D’Aversa, Laura Metzger)

    • Prepetition Term Agent: Cortland Capital Market Services LLC

      • Legal: Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP (Gerardo Mijares-Shafai, Seth Kleinman)

    • Indenture Trustee: Wilmington Trust NA

      • Legal: Pryor Cashman (Seth Lieberman, Patrick Sibley, Andrew Richmond)

    • Ad Hoc Group of Senior Noteholders (Canyon Capital Advisors LLC, DoubleLine Income Solutions Fund, J.H. Lane Partners Master Fund LP, JCG 2016 Holdings LP, The John C. Goff 2010 Family Trust, John C. Goff SEP-IRA, Cuerno Largo Partners LP, MGA insurance Company Inc., Pingora Partners LLC)

      • Legal: Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP (Brian Resnick, Stephen Piraino, Michael Pera) & (local) Rapp & Krock PC (Henry Flores)

Updated 7/7/19 #188

New Chapter 11 Filing - Elk Petroleum Inc.

Elk Petroleum Inc.

May 22, 2019

On May 22nd 2019, Elk Petroleum Aneth, LLC and Resolute Aneth, LLC voluntarily filed petitions for Chapter 11 bankruptcy with a restructuring support agreement with their noteholders. The debtors already have a plan of reorganization on file. Per the disclosure statement, the debtors claim that the cause of its financial distress and eventual bankruptcy was due to:

Debtors’ ambitious endeavors to acquire multiple oil and gas assets outpaced the Debtors’ balance sheet, and in certain respects, performance of the operated and non-operated assets failed to meet initial expectations.

The debtors tried to alleviate uncertainty of future cash flows through hedging oil prices. Oil prices went up, however, not down, and the hedging was, with the benefit of 50/50 hindsight, clearly a bad mistake. Here is what they have to say about that:

Debtors were unable to capture the financial benefits of the improving commodity price environment due to their hedge obligations under the BP ISDA.

Whoops. The Debtors are to receive $10mm in Debtor-in-Possession financing by certain supporting noteholders. All in all, the cause of distress continues to align with the reason for other bankruptcy filings in O&G land we’ve touched on. High fixed costs, lower than expected revenues and impatient lenders.

  • Jurisdiction: District of Delaware (Judge Laurie Silverstein)

  • Pre-Petition Capital Structure:

    • Revolving Credit Facility: $14.5mm FO Revolver (AB Elk Holdings LLC)

    • First Lien Credit Facility: $114.0mm TL (HPS Investment Partners)

    • Unsecured Debt: $54.9mm TL (LIM Asia Special Situations Master Fund Limited, AB Elk Holdings, ACR Multi-Strategy Quality Return (MQR) Fund, A Series of Investment Management Series Trust II (“ACR”), Fulcrum Energy Capital Fund II, LLC)

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Proposed Debtors & Debtors-in-Possession - Norton Rose Fulbright LLP (Gregory M. Wilkes, Kristian W. Gluck, Scott P. Drake, John N. Schwartz & Shivani Shah) Womble Bond Dickinson LLP (Matthew P. Ward & Morgan L. Patterson)

    • Financial Advisor: Ankura Consulting Group, LLC (Scott M. Pinsonnault), Opportune LLP

    • Investment Banker: Stephens Inc.

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

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • HPS Investment Partners: Provider of First Lien Term Loan

    • Certain unsecured loan holders:

      • AB Co-Invest Elk Holdings LLC

    • Certain secured debt holders:

      • AB Elk Holdings LLC

      • Riverstone Credit Partners - Direct, L.P.

      • Riverstone Credit Partners II - Direct LP

      • Riverstone Strategic Credit Partners S, L.P.

      • Riverstone Strategic Credit Partners A-2 AIV, L.P.

🚁New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - Bristow Group Inc.🚁

Bristow Group Inc.

May 11, 2019

Nothing like being late to the party. Following in the footsteps of fellow helicopter transportation companies Erickson Inc., CHC Group, Waypoint Leasing* and PHI Inc., Bristow Group Inc. ($BRS) and its eight affiliated debtors are the latest in the space to find their way into bankruptcy court. The company enters bankruptcy with a restructuring support agreement and a $75mm DIP financing commitment with and from its senior secured noteholders.

While each of the aforementioned companies is in the helicopter transportation space, they don’t all do exactly the same business. PHI, for instance, has a fairly large — and some might say, attractive — medical services business. Bristow, on the other hand, provides industrial aviation and charter services primarily to offshore energy companies in Europe, Africa, the Americas and the Asian Pacific; it also provides search and rescue services for governmental agencies, in addition to the oil and gas industry. Like the other companies, though: it is not immune to (a) the oil and gas downturn and (b) an over-levered balance sheet.

At the time of this writing, the debtors’ chapter 11 filing wasn’t complete and so details are scant. What we do know, however, is that the company does have a restructuring support agreement executed with “the overwhelming majority” of senior secured noteholders and a $75mm DIP commitment.

*Waypoint Leasing is listed as the 14th largest creditor, owed nearly $104k. Sheesh. These businesses can’t catch a break.

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

  • Capital Structure:

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Baker Botts LLP (James Prince, Omar Alaniz, Ian Roberts, Kevin Chiu, Emanuel Grillo, Chris Newcomb)

    • Financial Advisor: Alvarez & Marsal LLC

    • Investment Banker: Houlihan Lokey Capital Inc.

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

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • ABL Facility Agent: Barclays Bank PLC

    • 2019 Term Loan Agent: Ankura Trust Company LLC

    • Indenture Trustee for the 8.75% ‘23 Senior Secured Notes: U.S. Bank NA

    • Indenture Trustee for the 6.25% ‘22 Senior Notes and 4.5% ‘23 Convertible Senior Notes: Wilmington Trust NA

    • Ad Hoc Group of Secured Notes and Term Lenders (Blackrock Financial Management Inc., DW Partners LP, Highbridge Capital Management LLC, Oak Hill Advisors LP, Whitebox Advisors LLC)

      • Legal: Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP (Damian Schaible, Natasha Tsiouris) & (local) Haynes and Boone LLP (Charles Beckham, Kelli Norfleet, Martha Wyrick)

    • Ad Hoc Group fo Unsecured Noteholders

      • Legal: Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP

New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - Triangle Petroleum Corporation

Triangle Petroleum Corporation

May 8, 2019

If it walks like a chapter 22 and quacks like a chapter 22…it…may…notactually…be a chapter 22??

Triangle Petroleum Corporation (“TPC”) filed a prepackaged plan of reorganization with the District of Delaware to consummate a balance sheet restructuring. TPC is an independent energy holding company with a focus on the Williston Basin of North Dakota; its assets include a joint venture interest in Caliber Midstream Holdings LP, a midstream services company, leases of commercial and multi-unit residential buildings in North Dakota, and net operating losses. On the debt side of the balance sheet, the company had a $120mm 5.0% convertible promissory note issued to NGP Triangle Holdings, LLC (“NGP”).

So, what’s up with that convertible note? Wholly-owned direct or indirect subsidiaries of TPC — including Triangle USA Petroleum Corporation — filed for bankruptcy back in June 2016 to address their capital structure and, in the course of confirming a plan of reorganization, wiped out their stock. That stock, naturally, was an asset of TPC and, consequently, the New York Stock Exchange delisted TPC, constituting a “Fundamental Change,” under the note and triggering a requirement that TPC repurchase the convertible note for $154mm. TPC didn’t do so. Upon failing to do so, TPC triggered an event of default. Subsequently, J.P. Morgan Securities LLC (“JPMS”) purchased the note from NGP.

Thereafter, as part of discussions about a forbearance, JPMorgan Chase Bank NA provided the company with a term loan and the company and JPMS amended and restated the convertible note, granting JPMS a second lien in the process. JPMS, however, ultimately concluded that forbearing to nowhere wasn’t exactly a great strategy and so the chapter 11 filing will leave the term loan unimpaired, swap JPMS’ second lien secured note for 100% of TPC’s equity, ride through (what is a de minimis amount of) unsecured claims and wipe out equity, which had been trading over the counter. As of the petition date, the company had $2mm outstanding under the term loan and $167mm outstanding under the newly secured note.

Given that JPMS is the only voting party, this is a pretty easy plan to effectuate. Suffice it to say, JPMS voted yes to the prepackaged plan which means, going forward, it will own the interests in Caliber, Bakken Real Estate and, significantly, the valuable net operating losses.

  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware (Judge Walrath)

  • Capital Structure: see above.

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison LLP (Kelley Cornish, Alexander Woolverton) & (local) Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor LLP (Pauline Morgan, Andrew Magaziner, Shane Reil)

    • Board of Directors: Gus Halas, James Shein, Randal Matkaluk

    • Financial Advisor: Development Specialists Inc. (Mark Iammartino)

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

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Prepetition Lender: JPMorgan Chase Bank NA & J.P. Morgan Securities LLC

      • Legal: Duane Morris LLP (Lawrence Kotlar, Joel Walker)

⛽️New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - Jones Energy Inc.⛽️

Jones Energy Inc.

April 14, 2019

Austin-based independent oil and natural gas E&P company, Jones Energy Inc., filed a prepackaged chapter 11 bankruptcy to restructure its $1.009b of debt ($450mm senior secured first lien notes and $559mm unsecured notes across two tranches). In case you didn’t realize, oil and gas exploration and production is a capital intensive business.

The company operates primarily in the Anadarko Basin in Oklahoma and Texas. Its territory is the aggregation of acreage accumulated over the years, including the 2009 purchase of Crusader Energy Group Inc. out of bankruptcy for $240.5mm in cash.

We’re not going to belabor the point as to why this company is in bankruptcy: the narrative is no different than most other oil and gas companies that have found their way into bankruptcy court over the last several years. Indeed, this chart about sums things up nicely:

Screen Shot 2019-04-05 at 2.29.01 PM.png

It’s really just a miracle that it didn’t file sooner. Why hadn’t it? Per the company:

…the Debtors consummated a series of liquidity enhancing transactions, including equity raises, debt repurchases, strategic acquisitions, non-core asset sales, and modifications of their operations to reduce their workforce and drilling activities. This included a Company-wide headcount reduction in 2016 resulting in the termination of approximately 30% of the Debtors’ total workforce, as well as halting drilling activity spanning several months during the worst of the historic commodity downturn.

But…well…the debt. As in, there’s too much of it.

Screen Shot 2019-04-05 at 2.56.24 PM.png

And debt service costs were too damn high. In turn, the company’s securities traded too damn low:

Source: Disclosure Statement

Source: Disclosure Statement

What’s more interesting here is the process that unfolded. In February 2018, the company issued $450mm of 9.25% ‘23 senior secured first lien notes. The proceeds were used to repay the company’s senior secured reserve-based facility and eliminate the restrictive covenants contained therein. The company also hoped to use the proceeds to repurchase some of its senior unsecured notes at a meaningful discount to par. In a rare — yet increasingly common — show of unity, however, the company’s unsecured lenders thwarted these efforts by binding together pursuant to a “cooperation agreement” and telling the company to take its pathetic offer and pound sand. (PETITION Note: its amazing what lenders can achieve if they can solve for a collective action problem). This initiated a process that ultimately led to the transaction commemorated in the company’s announces restructuring support agreement.

So what now? The senior secured lenders will equitize their debt and come out with 96% of the common stock in the reorganized entity. Holders of unsecured debt will get 4% equity and warrants (exercisable for up to a 15% ownership stake in the reorganized company), both subject to dilution by equity issued to management under a “Management Incentive Plan.” The company has a commitment for $20mm of exit financing lined up (with the option for replacement financing of up to $150mm).

Hopefully the company will have better luck without the albatross of so much debt hanging over it.

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

  • Capital Structure: $450mm 9.25% ‘23 senior secured first lien notes (UMB Bank NA), $559mm 6.75% ‘22 and 9.25% ‘23 unsecured notes (Wells Fargo Bank NA)

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Kirkland & Ellis LLP (James Sprayragen, Christopher Marcus, Brian Schartz, Anthony Grossi, Ana Rotman, Rebecca Blake Chaikin, Mark McKane, Brett Newman, Kevin Chang) & (local) Jackson Walker LLP (Matthew Cavenaugh, Jennifer Wertz)

    • Independent Directors: Tara Lewis, L. Spencer Wells

    • Financial Advisor: Alvarez & Marsal LLC (Ryan Omohundro)

    • Investment Banker: Evercore Group LLC (Daniel Aronson)

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

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Ad Hoc Group of First Lien Noteholders

      • Legal: Milbank LLP (Dennis Dunne, Evan Fleck, Michael Price) & (local) Porter Hedges LLP (John Higgins, Eric English, Genevieve Graham)

      • Financial Advisor: Lazard Freres & Co. LLC

    • Ad Hoc Group of Crossover Holders

      • Legal: Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP (Brian Resnick, Benjamin Schak) & (local) Haynes and Boone LLP (Charlie Beckham, Kelli Norfleet)

      • Financial Advisor: Houlihan Lokey Capital Inc.

    • Metalmark Capital LLC

      • Legal: Vinson & Elkins LLP (Andrew Geppert, David Meyer, Jessica Peet, Michael Garza)

Updated 4/15/19 2:05 CT

⛽️New Chapter 11 Filing - Southcross Energy Partners LP⛽️

Southcross Energy Partners LP

April 1, 2019

We’ve been noting — in “⛽️Is Oil & Gas Distress Back?⛽️“ (March 6) and “Oil and Gas Continues to Crack (Long Houston-Based Hotels)“ (March 24) that oil and gas was about to rear its ugly head right back into bankruptcy court. Almost on cue, Vanguard Natural Resources Inc. filed for bankruptcy in Texas on the last day of Q1 and, here, Southcross Energy Partners LP kicked off Q2.

Dallas-based Southcross Energy Partners LP is a publicly-traded company ($SXEE) that provides midstream services to nat gas producers/customers, including nat gas gathering, processing, treatment and compression and access to natural gas liquid (“NGL”) fractionation and transportation services; it also purchases and sells nat gas and NGL; its primary assets and operations are located in the Eagle Ford shale region of South Texas, though it also operates in Mississippi (sourcing power plants via its pipelines) and Alabama. It and its debtor affiliates generated $154.8mm in revenues in the three months ended 09/30/18, an 11% YOY decrease.

Why are the debtors in bankruptcy? Because natural gas prices collapsed in 2015 and have yet to really meaningfully recover — though they are up from the $1.49 low of March 4, 2016. As we write this, nat gas prices at $2.70. These prices, combined with too much leverage (particularly in comparison to competitors that flushed their debt through bankruptcy) and facility shutdowns, created strong headwinds the company simply couldn’t surmount. It now seeks to use the bankruptcy process to gain access to much needed capital and sell to a buyer to maximize value. The company does not appear to have a stalking horse bidder lined up.

The debtors have a commitment for $137.5mm of new-money post-petition financing to fund its cases. Use of proceeds? With the agreement of its secured parties, the debtors seek to pay all trade creditors in the ordinary course of business. If approved by the court, this would mean that the debtors will likely avoid having to contend with an official committee of unsecured creditors and that only the secured creditors and holders of unsecured sponsor notes would have lingering pre-petition claims — a strong power move by the debtors.

  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware (Judge Walrath)

  • Capital Structure: $81.1mm funded ‘19 RCF (Wells Fargo Bank NA), $430.875mm ‘21 TL (Wilmington Trust NA), $17.4mm unsecured sponsor notes (Wells Fargo NA)

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP (Marshall Heubner, Darren Klein, Steven Szanzer, Benjamin Schak) & (local) Morris Nichols Arsht & Tunnell LLP (Robert Dehney, Andrew Remming, Joseph Barsalona II, Eric Moats)

    • Financial Advisor: Alvarez & Marsal LLC

    • Investment Banker: Evercore Group LLC

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

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Prepetition RCF & Unsecured Agent: Wells Fargo Bank NA

      • Legal: Vinson & Elkins LLP (William Wallander, Brad Foxman, Matt Pyeatt) & (local) Womble Bond Dickinson US LLP (Ericka Johnson)

    • Prepetition TL & DIP Agent ($255mm): Wilmington Trust NA

      • Legal: Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP (Seth Kleinman, Alan Glantz)

    • Post-Petition Lenders and Ad Hoc Group

      • Legal: Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP (Joseph Minias, Paul Shalhoub, Leonard Klingbaum, Debra McElligott) & (local) Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor LLP (Edmon Morton, Matthew Lunn)

    • Southcross Holdings LP

      • Legal: Debevoise & Plimpton LLP (Natasha Labovitz)

    • Stalking Horse Bidder:

Updated 9:39 CT

⛽️New Chapter 11 Filing - Vanguard Natural Resources Inc.⛽️

Vanguard Natural Resources Inc.

March 31, 2019

It’s raining SCARLET 22s! Freefall!! We still STILL have a feasibility problem!!!

Vanguard Natural Resources Inc. ($VNRR) and affiliated debtors find themselves in bankruptcy court again — the second time in nearly exactly two years (its predecessor confirmed a plan of reorganization in July 2017). And they do so in crash and burn fashion: while discussions have been happening over the last several weeks with various constituencies within the company’s capital structure, the company has no deal agreed to — merely the outlines of a restructuring term sheet. This is curious given that, under the company’s proposed DIP credit facility ($130mm, of which $65mm is new money), the company has a mere 30 days from the petition date to file a plan of reorganization and must emerge from chapter 11 within 120 days. Send hopes and prayers to the Kirkland attorneys working on this one over the next few weeks.

The debtors are an oil and natural gas company with production and development activity in the Rocky Mountain, Mid-Continent, Gulf Coast and West Texas regions of the United States; they operate in eight states across nine geologic basins. They are a remnant of the first bankruptcy which saw the predecessor entity shed $850mm of debt and wipe out the existing equity. The current capital structure looks like this:

Screen Shot 2019-04-01 at 1.26.16 PM.png

The second lien noteholders include Fir Tree Capital Management LP and York Capital Management Global Advisors LLC. And the company’s equity holders are:

Source: Chapter 11 Petition

Source: Chapter 11 Petition

This is another pretty cut and dry oil and gas bankruptcy given where oil and natural gas prices are. Many investors who took ownership of distressed E&P companies circa 2015-2017 were playing an option on oil and gas trading levels. That option is clearly out of the money.

Interestingly, that option was underwritten, in part, on the company’s projections. And, so, this statement by the company’s now-CEO was particularly intriguing to us and fits nicely within our recent general theme of inquiring as to whether the industry has a feasibility problem (see Paragon Offshore here, Gymboree here, and Payless here):

I understand that the Vanguard I Plan was predicated on various assumptions that ultimately did not materialize. As discussed further herein, it is my understanding that these may have included certain assumptions about: (a) commodity prices and basin differentials; (b) the pace and volume of divestments and the existence of valuable undeveloped resources to be sold; and (c) the expected returns on a number of capital investments pursued by Vanguard upon emergence—many of which have failed to come to full fruition and have challenged the Debtors’ liquidity over the last 18 months.

Former management, meet a big bad bus. You’ve just been thrown under it.

Under bus.gif

In fact, as if saying it wasn’t enough, the new CEO spared PETITION the trouble of having to dive into the 2017 filings to see just how badly these guys botched their liquidity projections:

Source: First Day Declaration

Source: First Day Declaration

The following compounded matters: (a) mismanagement of the company’s hedge book, (b) borrowing base redeterminations, (c) refi roadshows met with “tepid” interest, (d) a series of asset sales that failed to live up to expectations — both in terms of time to completion and proceeds, and (e) capital investments that “delivered lower economic returns than expected.” It’s almost as if distressed investors who sit on boards of directors and hire their own operators have absolutely no effing clue how to run an oil and gas company. Who knew?

And so the company came dangerously close to tripping a series of covenants. That’s when the company brought in Kirkland & Ellis LLP and Evercore Group LLC and re-engaged Opportune LLP to help the company. The various advisors engaged in a number of processes that would have provided the company with crucial liquidity — including new financing, bank facility amendments and various discreet asset sales. But all prospective parties quickly realized that the assets…well…for lack of a better description…kinda, like, suck.

And so nothing could get done. Well, other than the company obtaining a commitment for $130mm of DIP financing to fund the cases (of which only $65mm is new money). What happens from here will be interesting to watch. Suffice it to say, distressed-investors-cum-oil-and-gas-owners are learning a ROUGH lesson.

And, once again, we have to ask whether company projections ought to get a bit more scrutiny than they have to date.

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

  • Capital Structure: $677.7mm RCF and $123.4mm TL (Citibank NA), $80.7mm second lien notes (Delaware Trust Company)

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Kirkland & Ellis LLP (James Sprayragen, Christopher Marcus, Brian Schartz, Aparna Yenamandra, Richard Howell, Yates French, Kent Hayden, Timothy Bow, James Fedell, Allyson Smith Weinhouse) & (local) Blank Rome LLP (James Grogan, Philip Guffy)

    • Board of Directors: Randall Albert, Patrick Bartels Jr., W. Greg Dunlevy, Joseph Hurliman Jr., Andrew Schultz, R. Robert Sloan, L. Spencer Wells

    • Financial Advisor: Opportune LLP

    • Investment Banker: Evercore Group LLC

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

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • DIP Agent ($130mm, $65mm New Money): Citibank NA

      • Legal: Latham & Watkins LLP (Mitchell Seider, Annemarie Reilly, Adam Malatesta) & (local) Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP (Timothy Davidson II, Joseph Rovira)

    • Ad Hoc Group of First Lien Lenders

      • Legal: Brown Rudnick LLP (Robert Stark, Steven Pohl, Justin Cunningham, Alexander Fraser) & (local) Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP (Patricia Tomasco)

    • Second Lien Ad Hoc Group (Fir Tree Capital Management LP, York Capital Management Global Advisors LLC)

      • Legal: Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP (Brian Resnick, Benjamin Schak) & (local) Porter Hedges LLP (John Higgins, Eric English, M. Shane Johnson)

    • Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors

      • Legal: Locke Lorde LLP (Philip Eisenberg)

      • Restructuring Advisor: Parkman Whaling LLC (Thomas B. Hensley Jr.)

      • Financial Advisor: The Claro Group LLC (Douglas Brickley)

Updated 5/10 at 12:25pm (#48)

🚁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 Bankruptcy Filing - Weatherly Oil & Gas LLC

Weatherly Oil & Gas LLC

February 28, 2019

Restructuring in the oil and gas space has been quiet of late but we here at PETITION suspect that may change very soon. While oil has been on the rise (in the mid-60s at the time of this writing) — and there are both potential political and supply-side roadblocks growing domestically that may help push prices upward — there nevertheless appear to be cracks forming. We’ve been noting that Jones Energy ($JONE), Sanchez Energy Corporation ($SN), Southcross Energy Partners LP ($SXEE), and Vanguard Natural Resources all look distressed and headed towards chapter 11 bankruptcy filings (or a chapter 22 filing, as the case may be with Vanguard). Recent price action for several other companies also reflects some doubt about the oil and gas space.

Take, for instance, Alta Mesa Holdings LP ($AMR). Per The Houston Chronicle:

Houston oil and gas company Alta Mesa Resources is struggling to stay afloat, laying off roughly one-fourth of its employees and writing down the value of its assets by $3.1 billion because of admitted failures in its financial reporting.

The company's three top executives, CEO Hal Chappelle, Chief Operating Officer Michael Ellis and Chief Financial Officer Michael McCabe, resigned abruptly a few weeks ago.

The company disclosed in an SEC filing that the write-down stems from “ineffective internal control over financial reporting due to an identified material weakness.” We’re conjecturing here, but that sure sounds like diplomatic Texan for “we effed up pretty badly…perhaps even fraudulently.” Consequently, the plaintiffs’ lawyers are circling this puppy like vultures and, well, this:

Indeed, the company’s $500mm 7.875% senior unsecured bonds due 2024 got UTTERLY HOUSED, dipping down over 40% in a week and approximately 50% versus a month ago. This chart is BRUTAL:

Source: TRACE

Source: TRACE

We’ll take a deeper dive into Alta Mesa soon for our Members: if you’re not a Member well, we hope you revel in ignorance.

The price action of once-bankrupt Chaparral Energy Inc. ($CHAP) is also notable: it saw its stock collapse over 20% and its $300mm 8.75% senior unsecured notes due 2023 fall nearly 17%. More debt BRUTALITY here:

Source: TRACE

Source: TRACE

Long trips to Texas.

Here, Weatherly Oil & Gas LLC is an oil and gas acquisition and exploration company focused on Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas; it operates over 800 well bores (over half shut-in or non-producing) on 200k net acres. The company blames continued low commodity prices and fundamentally changed lending practices for its bankruptcy. Specifically, the company notes:

Lending practices moved from a reserves-based approach to a cash-flow based approach, limiting access to capital growth and forcing the Debtor to utilize free cash flow to pay down senior debt instead of making other capital expenditures.

Without capital and with an expensive production focus, the company struggled in the face of a glut of competition.

The company has a transaction support agreement pursuant to which it intends to sell its assets to multiple purchasers and then pursue a plan of liquidation. Angelo Gordon Energy Servicer LLC, the company’s prepetition lender, will provide a $1mm DIP to fund the cases. Halliburton Energy Services is the company’s largest unsecured creditor with an approximate $2.9mm claim.

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

  • Capital Structure: $90.2mm term loan (Angelo Gordon Energy Servicer LLC)

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Jackson Walker LLP (Matthew Cavenaugh, Kristhy Peguero, Vienna Anaya)

    • Financial Advisor/CRO: Ankura Consulting Group LLC (Scott Pinsonnault)

    • Marketing Agent: TenOaks Energy Partners LLC

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

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Prepetition Term Lender & DIP Lender ($1mm): Angelo Gordon Energy Servicer LLC

      • Legal: Vinson & Elkins LLP (Harry Perrin, David Meyer, Steven Zundell, Michael Garza)

    • Buyer: BRG Lone Star, Ltd.

    • Buyer: EnSight IV Energy Partners, LLC

    • Sponsor: Weatherly East Texas LLC

      • Legal: Kirkland & Ellis LLP (Gregory Pesce, Brett Newman)

New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - Bakken Resources Inc.

Bakken Resources Inc.

December 7, 2018

Publicly-traded oil and gas company, Bakken Resources Inc. ($BKKN), filed for bankruptcy on Friday in the District of Nevada. The company focuses its activities in the Williston Basin in western North Dakota with a focus on acquiring mineral leases and non-operating oil mineral interests and then leasing their acreage to ten oil drilling operators.

Without getting into the weeds here, it seems pretty clear from the bankruptcy papers that the company required a little more focus on its royalty income payments: it suffers from all kinds of reconciliation issues with its partner operators as well as its “overriding royalty” holder, Holms Energy. It’s also getting sued up the wazoo. So, that’s a bit of a drain. As well as a hindrance to the company in terms of raising capital — $8-10mm of which is desperately needed to acquire new producing mineral rights. The company has no secured debt and less than a million of unsecured debt which begs a super serious question: how the hell did it hire Lowenstein Sandler LLP and AlixPartners LLP? Where’s THAT money coming from?

The company notes:

The commencement of this Chapter 11 Case is the product of a confluence of factors that continue to erode the Company’s liquidity and substantially impede the Company’s ability to raise necessary capital. The Company’s cash position deteriorated significantly in 2018 due to a precipitous drop in oil prices and continued litigation expenses. Since October 2018, oil prices have fallen by 28% which has drastically impacted the Company’s net royalty revenues, as has a decline in production from the Company’s current wells. The Company’s monthly net royalty revenues are projected to decline from $ 142,000 in April 2018 to approximately $ 70,000 in April 2019. This decline combined with legal expenses of approximately $ 2,300,000 to date in 2018 has forced the Company to consume more than $ 2 million in cash this year. The Company projects that it will exhaust an additional $ 1.3 million through June 2019 absent a bankruptcy filing.

Remember: the President of the United States WANTS low oil prices. But we digress.

AlixPartners is charged with selling the company as a going concern, raising capital, or selling discrete assets or operations. Which, we’d be remiss not to note, isn’t Alix’s typical kind of retention. We just hope they disclosed any and all potential conflicts.

  • Jurisdiction: D. of Nevada (Judge Beesley)   

  • Company Professionals:

    • Legal: Lowenstein Sandler LLP (Jeffrey Cohen, Gabriel Olivera) & (local) Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP (Samuel Schwartz, Connor Shea)

    • Financial Advisor: AlixPartners LLP (Richard Robbins)

    • Claims Agent: Omni Management (*click on company name above for free docket access)

New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - All American Oil & Gas Inc.

All American Oil & Gas Inc.

November 12, 2018

San Antonio-based independent oil company All American Oil & Gas Inc. (“AAOG”) and its two affiliated companies, Western Power & Steam Inc. (“WPS”) and Kern River Holding Inc. (“KRH”) filed for bankruptcy earlier this week in the Western District of Texas. WPS is a power company that sells power to the likes of Pacific Gas & Electric — a company that, as we’ve previously noted, is having problems of its own (which only appear to be getting worse) — and provides electricity and steam to KRH to aid KRH’s efforts to extract oil.

The enterprise is reportedly cash flow positive, with approximately $25mm in EBITDA in 217 and higher EBITDA projected for 2018. So what gives?

The debtors accuse their successor lender, Kern Cal Oil 7 LLC (“KCO7”), which acquired the company’s secured debt from Alliance-Bernstein, of “not act[ing] as a typical lender,” instead “implement[ing] a predatory ‘loan to own’ strategy.” The debtors note:

Unlike many E&P cases, this bankruptcy filing is not the result of the Company’s poor operational performance, illiquidity, debt maturities or lack of underlying value. Rather, it was precipitated by KCO7’s efforts to exploit its rights under the Credit Agreements to obtain the Debtors’ assets ‘on the cheap,’ and thereby to destroy tens of millions in equity value.

In a dramatic twist, Kern Cal Oil 7 LLC is, according to the debtors, run by two former investment bankers “who were fired allegedly for cause from AAOG’s and KRH’s former investment banker and financial advisor Cappello Capital Corporation” and have an SEC claim filed against them for “breach of fiduciary duty, misappropriation of confidential information, and fraud, among other allegations.” Salacious.

In October, Kern Oil 7 LLC, under the auspices of attending a constructive meeting relating to potential M&A involving Kern Oil and the debtors, issued a notice of default on the basis of insufficient hedging, a move the debtors claim “was a transparent attempt to intimidate AAOG into handing over the Company to KCO7 for little or no value to its shareholders.” Suffice it to say that there is other dramatic stuff here including the debtors’ inability to put hedges in place, purportedly due to the notice of default, incomplete documentation relating to the change from Alliance-Bernstein to KCO7, and more. KCO7 notified the debtors that default interest now applied and on November 8, the debtors had a scheduled interest payment to make which, given these circumstances, the debtors opted not to make. In turn, the debtors filed for bankruptcy to “protect its going concern enterprise value and to restructure its secured debt.”

To fund their cases, the debtors seek authority to use their pre-petition lenders’ (read: KCO7) cash collateral. That ought to be a fun first day hearing.

  • Jurisdiction: W.D. of Texas (Judge King)

  • Capital Structure: $80.1mm ‘19 first lien debt (plus $789k in accrued/unpaid interest)(Kern Cal Oil 7 LLC), $50mm ‘20 second lien debt (plus $10.6mm PIK and $440k accrued/unpaid interest)(Kern Cal Oil 7 LLC)

  • Company Professionals:

    • Legal: Hogan Lovells US LLP (Richard Wynne, Bennett Spiegel, Erin Brady, Christopher Bryant, John Beck, Sean Feener) & (local) Dykema Gossett PLLC (Deborah Williamson, Patrick Huffstickler, Danielle Rushing)

    • Investment Banker: Houlihan Lokey

    • Claims Agent: BMC Group Inc. (*click on company name above for free docket access)

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Kern Oil 7 LLC

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

New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - Petroquest Energy Inc.

Petroquest Energy Inc.

November 6, 2018

Petroquest Energy Inc. ($PQUE), an independent energy company engaged in the exploration, development, acquisition and production of oil and gas reserves in Texas and Louisiana, managed to stave off bankruptcy back during the oil and gas downturn. How? Well, this is how:

Source: First Day Declaration

Source: First Day Declaration

Bankruptcy, however, caught up to it anyway.

The company filed for bankruptcy in the Southern District of Texas with a restructuring support agreement in tow. The terms of the RSA reflect that (i) the prepetition term lenders will be paid in full with an exit facility, (ii) the holders of second lien notes will have an option to participate in the exit facility (which will be fully backstopped by certain consenting creditors), and (iii) the prepetition second lien noteholders will receive 100% equity in the reorganized PetroQuest, a backstop fee in connection with provision of the exit facility, and $80mm of new second lien PIK notes. All of which is to say that the company will meaningfully de-lever its balance sheet. Meanwhile, general unsecured creditors will get $400k and all equityholders will, shockingly, get wiped.

More to come…

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

  • Capital Structure: $50mm Term Loan, $9.4mm second lien debt, $275mm second lien PIK debt (Wilmington Trust NA)     

  • Company Professionals:

    • Legal: Porter Hedges LLP (John Higgins, Joshua Wolfshohl, M. Shane Johnson)

    • Financial Advisor: FTI Consulting Inc.

    • Investment Banker: Seaport Global Securities

    • Claims Agent: Epiq Corporate Restructuring LLC (*click on company name above for free docket access)

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Second Lien Agent: Wilmington Trust NA

      • Legal: Reed Smith LLP (Kurt Gwynne)