November 8, 2019
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.
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.
Compounding matters is the balance sheet:
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 $100mm equity infusion from lenders Chambers and Mercuria.
This filing also requires — as a condition to the equity infusion — the implementation of amendments to two of five of the debtors’ gathering agreements and the rejection, assumption or consensual amendment of the remaining three agreements. Why? The debtors note:
“…certain of the Gathering Agreements impose significant minimum volume commitments (“MVCs”) at uneconomic fixed prices, thereby requiring ARE, the debtor party to the agreements, to pay for pipeline access, whether or not it is fully utilizing that capacity.”
Significantly, the debtors have reached agreement with the two gathering agreement counterparties on more realistic obligations in the current nat gas environment. Accordingly, the debtors hope to have this case completed by the end of February.
*Credit for “Crapter 11” belongs to loyal reader, David Guess, a Partner, who, congratulations are in order, recently moved over to Greenberg Traurig in Irvine CA. Cheers David!
**That is, unless we factor in the professionals. Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, Alvarez & Marsal LLC, PJT Partners Inc., and Prime Clerk LLC all get a second bite at the apple. Who says that debtor-work doesn’t have recurring revenue??
Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware (Judge Shannon)
Capital Structure: See Above.
Legal: Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP (Michael Torkin, Kathrine McLendon, Nicholas Baker, William Russell Jr., Edward Linden, Jamie Fell) & Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor LLP (Pauline Morgan, Kara Coyle, Ashley Jacobs)
Financial Advisor: Alvarez & Marsal LLC
Investment Banker: PJT Partners Inc. (Avi Robbins)
Claims Agent: Prime Clerk LLC (*click on the link above for free docket access)
Other Parties in Interest:
Prepetition RBL Agent and DIP Agent: Citibank NA
Legal: Paul Hastings LLP (Andrew Tenzer) & Richards Layton & Finger PA (Mark Collins, David Queroli)
Financial Advisor: RPA Advisors
Gathering Agreement Counterparty: Equitrans Midstream Corporation ($ETRN)
Legal: Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC (Mary Caloway, Mark Pfeiffer, TImothy Palmer)