⛽️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 - Hollister Construction Services LLC

Hollister Construction Services LLC

September 11, 2019

Sometimes it really pays to be a middleman. If you’re a middleman that can razzle dazzle potential claimants by saying you leverage a lot of cloud-based software, data integration apps and drones, you may even plow your way to $292mm in gross revenue. It’s all about tech these days.

NJ-based Hollister Construction Services LLC is a general construction firm that, in the course of providing construction management services, leverages the aforementioned tech. It doesn’t construct projects itself; rather, it engages in (i) design development, (ii) pre-development services, (iii) assisting with municipal approvals (iv) pre-construction services (including the subcontractor bidding process), and (iv) construction administration. Its projects are located across NJ and NY.

Here’s the thing: lots of tech and expertise are great but you still have to have a functional operating business. The economy has been charging and cranes are everywhere. The building business is booming. This is great if you’re ready to scale with the opportunity. Hollister apparently wasn’t up to the challenge. Per the company:

…recent and rapid expansion of the Debtor’s client base, combined with the Company’s underestimation of the costs of certain projects, resulted in the Company not being able to fully service all of its Project Owners’ projects. Likewise, Hollister was not able to ensure that Subcontractors were paid on the agreed-upon schedule. Certain Subcontractors subsequently stopped performing on their contracts with Hollister.

Accordingly, certain Project Owners ceased making remittance or progress payments to the Debtor on Projects that were pending or completed, but not yet paid in full. As Project Owner payments are the Debtor’s sole source of operating revenue, non-payment led to the Company experiencing significant operational cash flow and liquidity issues.

That’s brutal to read. This is what they call, “over your skis.” 45 projects are in various stages of completion.

The bankruptcy filing is predicated upon triggering the automatic stay, initiating a “breathing spell,” and giving the company an opportunity to negotiate with the Project Owners, the subcontractors, property owners and insurers on how to proceed.

  • Jurisdiction: D. of New Jersey (Judge Kaplan)

  • Capital Structure: $14mm line of credit (funded, PNC Bank NA), $1.3mm Term Loan (funded, PNC Bank NA)

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Lowenstein Sandler LLP (Brian Buechler, Kenneth Rosen, Joseph DiPasquale, Jennifer Kimble, Arielle Adler)

    • Financial Advisor/CRO: 10X CEO Coaching LLC (Paul Belair)

    • Business Consultant: The Parkland Group Inc. (Larry Goddard)

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

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • PNC Bank NA

      • Legal: Duane Morris LLP (James Holman, Sommer Ross)

9/13/19 #55

🇲🇽New Chapter 22 Bankruptcy Filing - Maxcom USA Telecom Inc.🇲🇽

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We’re all for a reprieve from retail and energy distress but, sheesh, couldn’t have been more interesting than this?

Maxcom USA Telecom Inc. is a telecommunications provider deploying “smart-build” approaches to “last mile” connectivity (read: modems, handsets and set-up boxes) for enterprises, residential customers and governmental entities in Mexico — which is really just a fancy way of saying that it provides local and long-distance voice, data, high speed, dedicated internet access and VoIP tech, among other things, to customers.* It purports to be cutting edge and entrepreneurial, claiming “a history of being the first providers in Mexico to introduce new services,” including (a) the first broadband in 2005, (b) the first “triple-play” (cable, voice and broadband) in 2005, and (c) the first paid tv services over copper network using IP…in 2007. That’s where the “history” stops, however, which likely goes a long way — reminder, it’s currently the year 2019 — towards explaining why this f*cker couldn’t generate enough revenue to service its ~$103.4mm in debt.** Innovators!!

And speaking of that debt, it’s primarily the $103.4mm in “Old Notes” due in 2020 that precipitated this prepackaged bankruptcy filing (in the Southern District of New York).***

The Old Notes derive from a prior prepackaged bankruptcy — in 2013 (PETITION Note: not a “Two-Year Rule” violation) — and were exchanged for what were then outstanding 11% senior notes due in 2014. These Old Notes have a “step-up interest rate,” which means that, over time, the interest rate…uh…steps up…as in, increases upward/up-like. The rate currently stands at 8%. Unfortunately, the company doesn’t have revenue step-ups/upwardness/upseedayzee to offset the interest expense increase; rather, the company “…incurred losses of $4.9 million for the three months ended June 30, 2019, as compared to losses of $2.9 million for the three months ended June 30, 2018, and losses of $16 million for the year ended December 31, 2018, compared to losses of $.8 million for the year ended December 31, 2017….” Compounding matters are, among other things, the negative effects of decreased interest income and foreign currency exchange rates (the dollar is too damn strong!).**** The closure of the residential segment also, naturally, affected net revenue.

To make matters worse, the company’s debt actually has limitations (remember those?). Per the company:

In order to expand its network and strengthen its market share, the Debtors require additional capital. But, the Old Notes Indenture prohibits Maxcom Parent from incurring additional indebtedness (other than permitted indebtedness) unless certain leverage coverage ratios are satisfied, and the increased interest burden under the Old Notes seriously constrains the Debtors’ ability to take the actions required under its business plan to strengthen and expand their operations.

The purpose of this bankruptcy filing, therefore, is to effectuate a consent solicitation and exchange offer whereby the Old Notes will be swapped (and extinguished) for new “Senior Notes,” new “Junior PIK Notes” and cash consideration. The cash consideration will be covered by a new equity injection of $15mm. This transaction will bolster the company’s liquidity and shed approximately $36mm of debt from the balance sheet (PETITION Note: carry the one, add the two, that’s roughly $2.88mm in annual interest savings before taking into account the PIK notes, which won’t be cash-pay, obviously).

Prior to the bankruptcy filing, the company obtained the requisite amount of support to jam non-consenting creditors (PETITION Note: in bankruptcy, a debtor needs 2/3 in amount and half in number of a particular class of debt to bind a class. Here, the company nailed down acceptances of the plan from 84.75% of the holders of Old Notes holding 66.73% of principal amount in Old Notes). And there is one large group of non-consenting holders, apparently. Cicerone Advisors LLC, a financial advisor to three holders of the Old Notes, Moneda Asset ManagementMegeve Investments and UBS Financial Services, Inc., attempted to engage the company on better terms than that offered under the plan. It did not, however, ultimately provide a proposal; instead, it demanded terms, including confidentiality and an agreement to pay fees and expenses of financial and legal advisors. Here’s the thing, though: they miscalculated their leverage: with only 30% of Old Notes represented, they don’t have a “blocking position” that could thwart the company’s proposal. Absent an additional 4%, these guys are dead in the water.

This should be…should be…a very quick trip through bankruptcy.*****


*The company is shutting down its residential segment, which “involves the gradual closure of residential clusters and mass disconnection of residential customers.” Apparently, people don’t need the company’s services anymore. At least not when they’re carrying $1,000 telecommunications systems in their pants pockets? 🤔

The disruption is real. Indeed, the company’s residential segment operates through an outdated copper network that doesn’t comport with the latest in fiber network technology.

**U.S. Bank NA is the indenture trustee under the Old Notes.

***Oh man, the venue on this one is just quaint. There are two debtors, Maxcom Telecomunicaciones, S.A.B. DE C.V., a Mexican entity and Maxcom USA Telecom Inc., which is 100% owned by the former. What does the latter do? According to Exhibit A of the First Day Declaration it does “[Assorted services in the USA].” Hahaha. This sh*t is so suspect that nobody even bothered to remove the brackets. It might as well say, “[Kinda sorta maybe some random sh*t within US borders and down the street from the SDNY for purposes of ginning up venue”]. Is it a guarantor on the notes? “[Yes].” HAHAHA. Like, is it, or not?? The listed highlight? “Recently created.” Damn straight it was. This year. The service address? “c/o United Corporate Services, Inc., Ten Bank Street, Suite 560, White Plains, NY 10606.” Conveniently happens to fall right in Judge Drain’s lap.

We mean, seriously, folks? People AREN’T EVEN TRYING to be slick about manufacturing venue anymore.

Apropos to the point, Duane Morris LLP’s Frederick Hyman highlights the trend of foreign borrowers with little to no assets in the U.S. filing for chapter 11 to take advantage of the automatic stay here, describing the slippery-slope-creating case of TMT Shipping (which established venue by funding professional retainers in the US).

****Interestingly, people have been voicing concerns about the foreign exchange rates and US-dominated debt in emerging markets. It seems those concerns may be warranted:

…from 2013 to date, the value of the Mexican Peso, as compared to the U.S., has decreased by 53%. Because of such devaluation, Maxcom Parent’s repurchase of the $74.3 million in principal amount of the Old Notes did not decrease the amount that Maxcom Parent’s books and records reflect is owed to the holders of the Old Notes given that Maxcom Enterprise’s revenues are mostly in Mexican Pesos. In other words, while the amount that Maxcom Parent owes on account of the Old Notes has decreased in U.S. Dollars, because the majority of Maxcom Enterprise’s revenues are in Mexican Pesos and the Old Notes are denominated in U.S. Dollars, Maxcom Parent’s liability on account of the Old Notes remains roughly the same on its books and records.

Ruh roh. 🙈 We expect to see many more mentions of exchange-related issues going forward. Mark our words.💥

*****Small victories. The dissenting bondholders were able to successfully push the debtors’ timeline by a week or so at the first day hearing.

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

  • Capital Structure: $103.4mm old notes

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Paul Hastings LLP (Pedro Jimenez, Irena Goldstein)

    • Financial Advisor: Alvarez & Marsal Mexico

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

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Indenture Trustee: US Bank NA

      • Legal: Thompson Hine LLP (Jonathan Hawkins, Curtis Tuggle)

🙈New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - Avenue Stores LLC🙈

Avenue Stores LLC

August 16, 2019

Retail, retail, retail.

Brutal. Absolutely B.R.U.T.A.L.

Avenue Stores LLC, a speciality women’s plus-size retailer with approximately 2,000 employees across its NJ-based HQ* and 255 leased stores,** is the latest retailer to find its way into bankruptcy court. On Friday, August 16, Avenue Stores LLC filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in the District of Delaware. Like Dressbarn, another plus-size apparel retailer that’s in the midst of going the way of the dodo, any future iteration of the Avenue “brand” will likely exist only on the interwebs: the company intends to shutter its brick-and-mortar footprint.

What is Avenue? In addition to a select assortment of national brands, Avenue is a seller of (i) mostly “Avenue” private label apparel, (ii) intimates/swimwear and other wares under the “Loralette” brand and (iii) wide-width shoes under the “Cloudwalkers” brand. The company conducts e-commerce via “Avenue.com” and “Loralette.com.” All of this “IP” is the crux of the bankruptcy. More on this below. 

But, first, a digression: when we featured Versa Capital Management LP’s Gregory Segall in a Notice of Appearance segment back in April, we paid short shrift to the challenges of retail. We hadn’t had an investor make an NOA before and so we focused more broadly on the middle market and investing rather than Versa’s foray into retail and its ownership of Avenue Stores LLC. Nevertheless, with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, we can now see some foreshadowing baked into Mr. Siegel’s answers — in particular, his focus on Avenue’s e-commerce business and the strategic downsizing of the brick-and-mortar footprint. Like many failed retail enterprises before it, the future — both near and long-term — of Avenue Stores is marked by these categorical distinctions. Store sales are approximately 64% of sales with e-commerce at approximately 36% (notably, he cited 33% at the time of the NOA). 

A brand founded in 1987, Avenue has had an up-and-down history. It was spun off out of Limited Brands Inc. and renamed in 1989; it IPO’d in 1992; it was then taken private in 2007. Shortly thereafter, it struggled and filed for bankruptcy in early 2012 and sold as a going-concern to an acquisition entity, Avenue Stores LLC (under a prior name), for “about $32 million.” The sale closed after all of two months in bankruptcy. The holding company that owns 100% of the membership interests in Avenue Stores LLC, the operating company, is 99%-owned by Versa Capital Management. 

Performance for the business has been bad, though the net loss isn’t off the charts like we’ve seen with other recent debtors in chapter 11 cases (or IPO candidates filing S-1s, for that matter). Indeed, the company had negative EBITDA of $886k for the first five months of 2019 on $75.3mm in sales. Nevertheless, the loss was enough for purposes of the debtors’ capital structure. The debtors are party to an asset-backed loan (“ABL”) memorialized by a credit agreement with PNC Bank NA, a lender that, lately, hasn’t been known for suffering fools. The loan is for $45mm with a $6mm first-in-last-out tranche and has a first lien on most of the debtors’ collateral. 

The thing about ABLs is that availability thereunder is subject to what’s called a “borrowing base.” A borrowing base determines how much availability there is out of the overall credit facility. Said another way, the debtors may not always have access to the full facility and therefore can’t just borrow $45mm willy-nilly; they have to comply with certain periodic tests. For instance, the value of the debtors’ inventory and receivables, among other things, must be at a certain level for availability to remain. If the value doesn’t hold up, the banks can close the spigot. If you’re a business with poor sales, slim margins, diminishing asset quality (i.e., apparel inventory), and high cash burn, you’re generally not in very good shape when it comes to these tests. With specs like those, your liquidity is probably already tight. A tightened borrowing base will merely exacerbate the problem.

Lo and behold, PNC declared the debtors in default on July 22; in turn, they imposed default interest on the debtors and initiated daily cash sweeps of the debtors’ bank accounts. Like we said. Suffer. No. Fools.*** The debtors owe $15.2mm on the facility. 

The debtors also have outstanding a subordinated secured note to the tune of $37.8mm. The note pays interest at 15% but is paid in kind.**** The lender on the note is an affiliate of Versa, and per the terms of the note, Versa had continued, at least through April 2019, to fund the business (and letters of credit for the debtors’ benefit) with millions of dollars of capital. 

If this sounds like a hot mess, well, yeah, sure, kudos. You’re clearly paying attention. It’s a dog eat dog world out there. Per the company:

The Debtors operate in an extremely competitive retail environment, facing competition from other specialty-retail stores, including Lane Bryant, Ashley Stewart, and Torrid, and mass-market retailers such as Walmart and Target, many of which are located in close proximity to Avenue stores. In addition to long-standing, traditional competitors within the plussize segment, there has been a recent influx of many other iconic fashion retail brands expanding their range of size offerings into the plus-size range, as well as a proliferation of new entrants targeting this same plus-size fashion market. Due to increased competition, the Debtors have faced significant pressure to maintain market share, which has directly and negatively affected their profitability.

Not that this is anything new. We all know this by now: competition is fierce (Stitch Fix Inc. ($SFIX)Neiman MarcusKohl’s Corporation ($KSS)Macy’s Inc. ($M) and others are now going after it hard), B&M sucks because leases carry higher expenses, store traffic is down, blah blah f*cking blah. The company continues:

…changes in consumer spending habits have necessitated many retailers to increase promotional activities and discounting, leading to thinner profit margins. Onerous brick-and-mortar lease terms and increased operating costs, during a period of downturn in the retail sector and deep discounting, have intensified retail losses.

Interestingly, in the face of surging U.S. retail sales in July,***** the company also notes that “a review of historic customer data indicates that Avenue customers are shopping less frequently than they once were….” They blame this on a “[s]hifts in consumer preferences” and the debtors’ emphasis on “fashion basics.” DING DING DING. No wonder customers are shopping there less frequently. “Basic” is the antithesis of Instagram-based retail these days. Basics can be purchased at any big box retailer; basics are now available via Amazon’s private label. Basics don’t create an influencer and, on the flip side, no influencer will market “basic.” Maybe Avenue could get away with “fashion basics” if it had brand-equity like SUPREME and was perceived as a luxury brand. But far from it. 

Speaking of basic, that pretty much describes the go-forward game plan. We’ll lay it out for you:

  • Engage an independent director to explore strategic alternatives;

  • Engage professionals (Young Conaway is legal and Berkeley Research Group as restructuring advisor and CRO)******;

  • Consider whether there’s going concern value, conclude, like, basically, “nope,” and then hire a consultant******* to solicit bids from liquidators for the B&M piece and an investment banker (Configure Partners) for the IP and e-commerce business; 

  • Issue WARN notices, RIF employees, and start shuttering stores (with intent to file a rejection motion on day 1 of the bankruptcy); 

  • Select a stalking horse bidder for the B&M assets from the pool of interested liquidators (in this case, Gordon Brothers and Hilco Merchant Resources LLC); 

  • Continue to search for a stalking horse bidder for the IP and e-commerce (at filing, there wasn’t one yet); and

  • Secure DIP financing (here, $12mm from PNC) to fund the cases while the B&M liquidation transpires and the banker searches under every rock under an extremely compressed timeframe (by 9/24/19) for that e-commerce/IP buyer.******** 

So we’ll know in the next 60 days what the future is for Avenue.

If there is one.


*Let’s pour one out for NJ. The state’s larger retailers are having a rough go of things lately, see, e.g., Toys R Us. The 2,000 figure is updated to reflect a recent round of layoffs. 

**The debtors are located primarily in shopping malls and shopping centers, doing business in 35 states. They have a distribution center for brick-and-mortar merchandise in Troy, Ohio, and a third-party warehousing facility located in Dallas, Texas, which handles logistics for e-commerce. The Troy center is the subject of a wholly unoriginal PE-backed sale/leaseback transaction. The debtors sold the center for $11.3mm and subsequently entered into a 15-year lease with the buyer, RD Dayton LLC. We mention this because sale/leaseback transactions have been getting hyper-focus these days as a tactic-of-choice by private equity overlords to extract returns out of portfolio companies’ assets with any actual value: real property. If you’re wondering why there is very little asset value left for unsecured creditors in retail cases, sale/leaseback transactions are often a culprit. Here, it’s especially egregious because Avenue doesn’t own ANY of its stores: the entire footprint is leased.

The debtors recently closed the Ohio center and transitioned its inventory to Texas and the company already filed a motion seeking to reject this lease (Docket 15).

***This is not extraordinary. Banks do this all of the time when debtors default. A liquidity starved company is almost always toast (read: bankrupt) once this happens. 

****PIK interest means that the interest accrues in the form of additional notes and is not subject to scheduled cash payments. 

*****Per Reuters:

Retail sales increased 0.7% last month after gaining 0.3% in June, the government said. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast retail sales would rise 0.3% in July. Compared to July last year, retail sales increased 3.4%.

******Something tells us that the likes of FTI, A&M and AlixPartners are happy to cede the liquidating retailer market to Berkeley Research Group. 

*******This is one of the more ingenious things to come out of the restructuring market in recent years. These liquidator agreements are so unintelligible that they might as well be written in Dothraki. Hence the need for an intermediary to break out the secret decoder ring and figure out what is actually being contracted for. We don’t know: if something is so woefully incoherent that it requires a separate consultant just to interpret it, something tells us that obfuscation is a feature not a bug.

********If none is found, the liquidator will also get these assets as part of the agency agreement. 

  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware (Judge Silverstein)

  • Capital Structure:

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor LLP (Robert Brady, Andrew Magaziner, Ashley Jacobs, Allison Mielke, Betsy Feldman)

    • Financial Advisor/CRO: Berkeley Research Group (Robert Duffy)

    • Investment Banker: Configure Partners

    • Liquidators: Gordon Brothers and Hilco Merchant Resources LLC

    • Liquidation Consultant: Malfitano Advisors LLC

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

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Pre-petition & DIP Agent: PNC Bank NA

      • Legal: Blank Rome LLP (Regina Stango Kelbon)

    • Subordinated Lender: Versa Capital Management LP

      • Legal: Landis Rath & Cobb LLP (Adam Landis, Matthew McGuire)

🌑New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - Blackhawk Mining LLC🌑

Blackhawk Mining LLC

July 19, 2019

What are we averaging? Like, one coal bankruptcy a month at this point? MAGA!!

This week Blackhawk Mining LLC filed prepackaged Chapter 11 cases in the District of Delaware, the effect of which will be the elimination of approximately $650mm of debt from the company’s balance sheet. Unlike other recent bankruptcies, i.e., the absolute and utter train wreck that is the Blackjewel LLC bankruptcy, this case actually has financing and employees aren’t getting left out in the lurch. So, coal country can at least take a deep breath. Small victories!

Before we get into the mechanics of how this deleveraging will work, it’s important to note some of the company’s history. Blackhawk represents opportunism at its best. Founded in 2010 as a strategic vehicle to acquire coal reserves, active mining operations and logistical infrastructure located primarily in the Appalachian Basin, the privately-owned coal producer hit the ground running. Initially the company started with Kentucky thermal coal assets (PETITION Note: thermal coal’s end use is the production of electricity; in contrast, metallurgical coal’s prime use is for the production of steel). It then quickly moved to diversify its product offering with a variety of acquisitions. In 2014, it acquired three mining complexes in the bankruptcy of James River Coal Company (which served as the company’s entry into the production of met coal). Thereafter, in 2015, the company purchased six mining complexes in the bankruptcy of Patriot Coal Company (which has since filed for bankruptcy a second time). This acquisition lofted the company into the highest echelon of US-based met coal production (PETITION Note: met coal drives 76% of the company’s $1.09b in revenue today). The company now operates 19 active underground and 6 active surface mines at 10 active mining complexes in West Virginia and Kentucky. The company has 2,800 employees. 

Naturally, this rapid growth begs some obvious questions: what was the thesis behind all of these acquisitions and how the hell were they financed? 

The investments were a play on an improved met coal market. And, to some degree, this play has proven to be right. Per the company: 

“The Company’s strategic growth proved to be a double-edged sword. On one hand, it significantly increased the Company’s position in the metallurgical coal market at a time when asset prices were depressed relative to today’s prices. The Company continues to benefit from this position in the current market. The price of high volatile A metallurgical coal has risen from $75 per ton to an average of $188 per ton over the last two years, providing a significant tailwind for the Company. On the other hand, the pricing environment for metallurgical coal did not improve until late 2016, and the debt attendant to the Company’s acquisition strategy in 2015 placed a strain on the Company’s ability to maintain its then-existing production profile while continuing to reinvest in the business. During this time, to defer expenses, the Company permanently closed over 10 coal mines (with over 5 million tons of productive capacity), idled the Triad complex, and depleted inventories of spare equipment, parts, and components. Furthermore, once the coal markets began to improve, the Company was forced to make elevated capital expenditures and bear unanticipated increases in costs—for example, employment costs rose approximately 25% between 2016 and 2018—to remain competitive. The confluence of these factors eventually made the Company’s financial position untenable.”

Longs and shorts require the same thing: good timing. 

Alas, the answer to the second question also leads us to the very predicament the company finds itself in today. The company has $1.09b in debt split across, among other things, an ABL facility (’22 $85mm, MidCap Financial LLC), a first lien term loan facility (’22 $639mm, Cantor Fitzgerald Securities), a second lien term loan facility (’21 $318mm, Cortland Capital Markets Services LLC), and $16mm legacy unsecured note issued to a “Patriot Trust” as part of the Patriot Coal asset acquisition. More on this Trust below.

But this is not the first time the company moved to address its capital structure. In a bankruptcy-avoiding move in 2017, the company — on the heals of looming amortization and interest payments on its first and second lien debt — negotiated an out-of-court consensual restructuring with its lenders pursuant to which it kicked the can down the road on the amortization payments to its first lien lenders and deferred cash interest payments to its second lien lenders. If you’re asking yourself, why would the lenders agree to these terms, the answer is, as always, driven by money (and some hopes and prayers). For their part, the first lien lenders obtained covenant amendments, juiced interest rates and an increased principal balance owed while the second lien lenders obtained an interest rate increase. Certain first and second lien lenders also got equity units, board seats and additional voting rights. These terms — onerous in their own way — were a roll of the dice that the environment for met coal would continue to improve and the company could grow into its capital structure. Clearly, that hope proved to be misplaced. 

Indeed, this is the quintessential kick-the-can-down-the-road situation. By spring 2019, Blackhawk again faced a $16mm mandatory amortization payment and $20mm in interest payments due under the first lien term loan. 

Now the first lien lenders will swap their debt for 71% of the reorganized equity and a $225mm new term loan and the second lien lenders will get 29% of the new equity. The “will-met-coal-recover-to-such-a-point-where-the-value-of-the-company-extends-beyond-the-debt?” option play for those second lien lenders has expired. The company seeks to have its plan confirmed by the end of August. The cases will be financed by a $235mm DIP of which $50mm is new money and the remainder will rollup $100mm in first lien term loan claims and $85mm in ABL claims (and ultimately convert to a $90mm exit facility). 

Some other quick notes:

  • Kirkland & Ellis LLP represents the company after pushing Latham & Watkins LLP out in a move that would make Littlefinger proud. This is becoming an ongoing trend: as previously reported, K&E also gave das boot to Latham in Forever21. A war is brewing folks. 

  • The Patriot Trust will get $500k per a settlement baked into the plan. On a $16mm claim. The “Patriot Trust” refers to the liquidating trust that was established in connection with the Patriot Coal Corporation chapter 11 cases, previously filed in the Eastern District of Virginia. Marinate on that for a second: the creditors in that case fought long and hard to have some sort of recovery, won a $16mm claim and now have to settle for $500k. There’s nothing like getting screwed over multiple times in bankruptcy. 

  • But then there’s management: the CEO gets a nice cushy settlement that includes a $500k payment, a seat on the reorganized board of managers (and, presumably, whatever fee comes with that), and a one-year consulting contract. He waives his right to severance. If we had to venture a guess, Mr. Potter will soon find his way onto K&E’s list of “independent” directors for service in other distressed situations too. That list seems to be growing like a weed. 

  • Knighthead Capital Management LLC and Solus Alternative Asset Management LP are the primary holders of first lien paper and now, therefore, own the company. Your country’s steel production, powered by hedge funds! They will each have representation on the board of managers and the ability to jointly appoint an “independent” director. 


  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware (Judge Silverstein)

  • Capital Structure: See above.

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Kirkland & Ellis LLP (James Sprayragen, Ross Kwasteniet, Joseph Graham, Stephen Hessler, Christopher Hayes, Derek Hunter, Barack Echols) & (local) Potter Anderson Corroon LLP (Christopher Swamis, L. Katherine Good) 

    • Financial Advisor: AlixPartners LLP

    • Investment Banker: Centerview Partners (Marc Puntus)

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

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Prepetition ABL & DIP ABL Agent: Midcap Funding IV Trust

      • Legal: Hogan Lovells US LLP (Deborah Staudinger)

    • Prepetition & DIP Term Agent: Cantor Fitzgerald Securities

      • Legal: Herrick Feinstein LLP (Eric Stabler, Steven Smith)

    • Second Lien Term Loan Agent: Cortland Capital Market Services LLC

      • Legal: Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP (Alex Cota, Gabriel Sasson)

    • Consenting Term Lenders: Knighthead Capital Management LLC, Solus Alternative Asset Management LP, Redwood Capital Management LLC

      • Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP (Brian Resnick, Dylan Consla, Daniel Meyer)

    • Ad Hoc Group of First Lien Lenders

      • Legal: Shearman & Sterling LLP (Fredric Sosnick, Ned Schodek)

🏠New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - Stearns Holdings LLC🏠

Stearns Holdings LLC

July 9, 2019

Hallelujah! Something is going on out in the world aside from the #retailapocalypse and distressed oil and gas. Here, Blackstone Capital Partners-owned Stearns Holdings LLC and six affiliated debtors (the “debtors”) have filed for bankruptcy in the Southern District of New York because of…drumroll please…rising interest rates. That’s right: the FED has claimed a victim. Stephen Moore and Judy Shelton must be smirking their faces off.

The debtors are a private mortgage company in the business of originating residential mortgages; it is the 20th largest mortgage lender in the US, operating in 50 states. We’ll delve more deeply into the business model down below but, for now, suffice it to say that the debtors generate revenue by producing mortgages and then selling them to government-sponsored enterprises such as Ginnie Mae, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. There are a ton of steps that have to happen between origination and sale and, suffice it further to say, that requires a f*ck ton of debt to get done. That said, on a basic level, to originate loans, the debtors require favorable interest rates which, in turn, lower the cost of residential home purchases, and increases market demand and sales activity for homes.

Except, there’s been an itsy bitsy teeny weeny problem. Interest rates have been going up. Per the debtors:

The mortgage origination business is significantly impacted by interest rate trends. In mid-2016, the 10-year Treasury was 1.60%. Following the U.S. presidential election, it rose to a range of 2.30% to 2.45% and maintained that range throughout 2017. The 10-year Treasury rate increased to over 3.0% for most of 2018. The rise in rates during this time period reduced the overall size of the mortgage market, increasing competition and significantly reducing market revenues.

Said another way: mortgage rates are pegged off the 10-year treasury rate and rising rates chilled the housing market. With buyers running for the hills, originators can’t pump supply. Hence, diminished revenues. And diminished revenues are particularly problematic when you have high-interest debt with an impending maturity.

This is where the business model really comes into play. Here’s a diagram illustrating how this all works:

Source: First Day Declaration, PETITION

Source: First Day Declaration, PETITION

The warehouse lenders got nervous when, over the course of 2017/18, mortgage volumes declined while, at the same time, the debtors were obligated to pay down the senior secured notes; they, rightfully, grew concerned that the debtors wouldn’t have the liquidity available to repurchase the originated mortgages within the 30 day window. Consequently, the debtors engaged PIMCO in discussions about the pending maturity of the notes. Over a period of several months, however, those discussions proved unproductive.

The warehouse lenders grew skittish. Per the debtors:

Warehouse lenders began reducing advance rates, increasing required collateral accounts and increasing liquidity covenants, further contracting available working capital necessary to operate the business. Eventually, two of the warehouse lenders advised the Debtors that they were prepared to wind down their respective warehouse facilities unless the Debtors and PIMCO agreed in principle to a deleveraging transaction by June 7, 2019. That did not happen. As a result, one warehouse lender terminated its facility effective June 28, 2019 and a second advised that it will no longer allow new advances effective July 15, 2019. The Debtors feared that these actions would trigger other warehouse lenders to take similar actions, significantly impacting the Debtors’ ability to fund loans and restricting liquidity, thereby jeopardizing the Debtors’ ability to operate their franchise as a going concern.

On the precipice of disaster, the debtors offered the keys to PIMCO in exchange for forgiveness of the debt. PIMCO rebuffed them. Subsequently, Blackstone made PIMCO a cents-on-the-dollar cash-out offer on the basis that the offer would exceed liquidation value of the enterprise and PIMCO again declined. At this point there’s a lot of he said, she said about what was offered and reneged upon to the point that it ought to suffice merely to say that the debtors, Blackstone and PIMCO probably aren’t all sharing a Hamptons house together this summer.

So, where did they end up?

The debtors have filed a plan of reorganization with Blackstone as plan sponsor. Blackstone agreed to inject $60mm of new equity into the business — all of which, notably, is earmarked to cash out the notes in their entirety (clearly at at discount — read: below par — for PIMCO and the other noteholders). The debtors also propose to subject Blackstone’s offer to a 30-day competitive bidding process, provided that (a) bids are in cash (credit bids will not be allowed) and (b) all obligations to the GSEs and other investors are honored.

To fund the cases the debtors have obtained a commitment from Blackstone for $35mm in DIP financing. They also sourced proposals from warehouse lenders prepetition and have obtained commitments for $1.5b in warehouse financing from Barclays Bank PLC and Nomura Corporate Funding Americas LLC (guaranteed, on a limited basis, by Blackstone). In other words, Blackstone is ALL IN here: with the DIP financing, the limited guarantee and the equity check, they are placing a stake in the ground when it comes to mortgage origination.

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

  • Capital Structure: $184mm 9.375% ‘20 senior secured notes (Wilmington Trust Association NA)

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP (Jay Goffman, Mark McDermott, Shana Elberg, Evan Hill, Edward Mahaney-Walter)

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

    • Investment Banker: PJT Partners LP (Jamie O’Connell)

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

    • Board of Directors: David Schneider, William Cary, Glenn Stearns, Nadim El Gabbani, Chinh Chu, Jason Roswig, Chris Mitchell

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Indenture Trustee: Wilmington Trust Association NA

      • Legal: Alston & Bird LLP (Jason Solomon)

    • Major Noteholder: Pacific Investment Management Company LLC

      • Legal: Hogan Lovells US LLP (Bennett Spiegel, Stacey Rosenberg)

    • Blackstone Capital Partners VI-NQ/NF LP

      • Legal: Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP (Elisha Graff, Jamie Fell)

    • Barclays Bank PC

      • Legal: Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP (Peter Partee Sr., Brian Clarke)

    • Nomura Corporate Funding Americas LLC

      • Legal: Milbank LLP (Mark Shinderman, Lauren Doyle) & Alston & Bird LLP (Karen Gelernt)

    • Fannie Mae

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

    • Freddie Mac

      • Legal: McKool Smith PC (Paul Moak)

7/9/19 #30

⛽️New Chapter 11 Filing - 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 - Monitronics International Inc.🏠

Monitronics International inc.

June 30, 2019

We wrote about Monitronics International Inc. in July 2018 in "😬Home Security Company Looks Vulnerable 😬,” noting that “home security is a tough business (short Ascent Capital Group).” And, by “tough” we meant uber-competitive and saturated. It doesn’t help when you’re levered like a boss. We recommend you read the link above to understand the challenges these businesses faced in a better way than that described in the bankruptcy papers.

That said, the debtors’ capital structure is an important element of this story; they carry:

  • $181.4mm ‘21 Revolving Credit Facility

  • $1.072b ‘22 Term Loan

  • $585mm ‘20 9.125% Senior Notes

Leverage + disruption = a recipe for disaster. This prepackaged bankruptcy filing is meant to address the former. Management will be on the clock to figure out the latter. A significantly deleveraged capital structure and a cash infusion will certainly help.

The debtors’ proposed prepackaged plan of reorganization will eliminate approximately $885mm of funded debt by way of equitizing the entirety of the senior notes, and reducing the revolving credit facility (by $50mm) and the amount of term loans (by $250mm). The term lenders will receive $150mm in cash (financed by a rights offering totaling $177mm) and equitize $100mm worth of their loans. The remainder of the term loan amount will be exchanged for take back paper issued by the reorganized debtors.

Source: First Day Declaration ($ in millions)

Source: First Day Declaration ($ in millions)

This is what the capital structure will look like pre and post-transaction:

Source: First Day Declaration ($ in millions)

Source: First Day Declaration ($ in millions)

The senior unsecured notes are fully exchanged for 18% of pre-diluted equity in the reorganized debtors.

The overall structure of the transaction is complex and depends upon some contingencies. This is the summary the debtors provided:

It might as well be gibberish at this point. Once we know whether Ascent toggle occurs we’ll have a better sense of who is contributing what. Moreover, once we the rights offering is consummated, the debtors’ new ownership will be more obvious.

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

  • Capital Structure: See above.

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Latham & Watkins LLP (David Hammerman, Annemarie Reilly, Jeremy Mispagel, Liza Burton, Brian Rosen, Christopher Harris, Zachary Proulx) & King & Spalding LLP (Roger Schwartz, Sarah Primrose) & (local) Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP (Timothy Davidson, Ashley Harper)

    • Board of Directors: Jeffery Gardner, William Niles, Marc Beilinson, Sherman Edmiston III

    • Financial Advisor: FTI Consulting Inc.

    • Investment Banker: Moelis & Company LLC

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

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Ad Hoc Lender Group (Term B-2 Lenders)(Anchorage Capital Group LLC, Boston Management and Research, BlueMountain Capital Management LLC, Eaton Vance Management, FS Global Advisor LLC, Invesco Advisors Inc., KKR Credit Advisors US LLC, Monarch Alternative Capital LP)

      • Legal: Jones Day (Paul Green, Scott Greenberg, Michael Schneidereit, Peter Saba)

      • Financial Advisor: Evecore LLC

    • Ad Hoc Group of Noteholders

      • Legal: Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP (Kristohper Hansen, Sayan Bhattacharyya, Jason Pierce) & (local) Haynes and Boone LLP (Kelli Norfleet, Stephen Pezanosky)

      • Financial Advisor: Houlihan Lokey Capital Inc.

    • KKR Credit Advisors US LLC

      • Legal: Proskauer Rose LLP (Chris Theodoridis)

    • Administrative Agent under Pre-Petition Credit Agreement: Bank of America NA

      • Legal: Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP (Amelia Joiner) & ( Local) Winstead PC (Sean Davis)

    • Pre-Petition Agent: Cortland Capital Markets Services LLC

      • Legal: Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP (Christopher Odell, Hannah Sibiski, D. Tyler Nurnberg, Sarah Gryll)

    • Ascent Capital Group

      • Legal: Baker Botts LLP

New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing -- Fusion Connect Inc.

June 3, 2019

We previously wrote about Fusion Connect Inc. ($FSNN), providers of “Unified Communications-as-a-Service” and “Infrastructure-as-a-Service” in “⛈A Dark "Cloud" on the Horizon⛈.” Therein we marveled at how special Fusion must be…to fail SO SPECTACULARLY in today’s cloud here, cloud there, cloud everywhere, everyone’s gaga for cloud environment. Cloud is SO captivating that it wasn’t until the company filed a piss poor 8-K back in April that a B. Riley FBR ($RILY) analyst FINALLY had an epiphany and declared that the company’s stock ought to be downgraded from “buy” to “neutral” (huh?!?) with a price target of $0.75 — down from $9.75/share. This is despite the fact that the stock hadn’t traded anywhere in the vicinity of $9.75/share in ages — nowhere even close, actually — but whatevs. Clearly, his head was in the cloud(s). This, ladies and gentlemen, demonstrates, in a nutshell, the utter worthlessness of equity analyst reports.🖕

But this isn’t a story about shoddy analyst research. That would be wholly unoriginal. This is a story about synergies and burdensome debt. Because, like, that’s so super original that you won’t read of it again until…well…you scroll below to the next bit of content about FTD!! 🙄

Boiled down to its simplest form, this company is the product of an acquisition strategy (and reverse merger) gone wrong. Like, in a majormajor way. Per the company:

The Company pursued the Birch Merger with a vision of leveraging its existing processes and structures to create synergies between Fusion’s and Birch’s joined customer bases, combine network infrastructure assets to improve operational efficiencies, and ultimately drive material growth in Fusion’s and Birch’s combined annual revenue. In connection with the Birch Merger and MegaPath Merger, the Company incurred $680 million in secured debt(emphasis added)

That reverse merger closed at the end of Q2, 2018. Yet…

Unfortunately, due to underperformance compared to business projections, the Company found itself with limited liquidity and at risk of default under its debt documents by early 2019.

Wait, what? Limited liquidity and risk of default by “early 2019”?!? Who the f*ck diligenced and underwrote this transaction?!? This sitch is so bad, that the company literally didn’t have enough liquidity to make a recent $6.7mm amort payment under the first lien credit agreement and a $300k interest payment on its unsecured debt. This is the company’s pre-petition capital structure:

  • $20mm super senior L+10% June 2019 debt

  • $43.3mm Tranche A Term Loans L+6.0% May 2022 debt

  • $490.9mm Tranche B Term Loans L+8.5% May 2023 debt

  • $39mm Revolving Loans L+6.0% May 2022 debt

  • $85mm Second Lien L+10.5% November 2023 debt

  • $13.3mm Unsecured Debt

Back in April we summed up the situation as follows:

The company’s recent SEC reports constitute a perfect storm of bad news. On April 2, the company filed a Form 8-K indicating that (i) a recently-acquired company had material accounting deficiencies that will affect its financials and, therefore, certain of the company’s prior filings “can no longer be relied upon,” (ii) it won’t be able to file its 10-K, (iii) it failed to make a $7mm interest payment on its Tranche A and Tranche B term loan borrowings due on April 1, 2019, and (iv) due to the accounting errors, the company has tripped various covenants under the first lien credit agreement — including its fixed charge coverage ratio and its total net leverage ratio.

Again, who diligenced the reverse merger?!? 😡

So here we are. In bankruptcy. To what end?

The company is seeking a dual-path restructuring that is all the rage these days: everyone loves to promote optionality that will potentially result in greater value to the estate. In the first instance, the company proposes, as a form of “stalking horse,” a “reorganization transaction” backed by a restructuring support agreement with certain of its lenders. This transaction would slash $300mm of the company’s $665mm of debt and result in the company’s first lien lenders owning the company. That is, unless a buyer emerges out of the woodwork with a compelling purchase price. To promote this possibility, the company is filing a bid procedures motion with the bankruptcy court with the hope of an eventual auction taking place. If a buyer surfaces with mucho dinero, the company will toggle over to a sale pursuant to a plan of reorganization. This would obviously be the optimal scenario. Absent that (and maybe even with that), we’ve got a jaw-dropping example of value destruction. “Fail fast,” many in tech say. These cloud bros listened!! Nothing like deep-sixing yourself with a misguided poorly-diligenced acquisition. Bravo!!

The company has secured a commitment for a fully-backstopped $59.5mm DIP that subsumes the $20mm in super senior pre-petition bridge financing recently provided by the first lien lenders. Is this DIP commitment good for general unsecured creditors? Is any of this generally good for unsecured creditors? Probably not.

Major creditors include a who’s who of telecommunications companies, including AT&T Inc. ($T) (first Donald Trump and now THIS…rough week for AT&T), Verizon Communications Inc. ($VZ)XO Communications (owned by VZ), Frontier Communications Corp. ($FTR)(which has its own issues to contend with as it sells assets to sure up its own balance sheet), CenturyLink Inc. ($CTL)Level 3 Communications ($LVLT)Time Warner Inc. ($TWX), and….wait for it…bankrupt Windstream Communications ($WINMQ). Because the hits just keep on coming for Windstream….

machete.gif

Jurisdiction: S.D. of New York (Judge Bernstein)

  • Capital Structure: see above.

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP (Gary Holtzer, Sunny Singh, Natasha Hwangpo)

    • Board of Directors: Matthew Rosen, Holcombe Green Jr., Marvin Rosen, Holcombe Green III, Michael Del Guidice, Lewis Dickey Jr., Rafe de la Gueronniere, Neil Goldman)

    • Financial Advisor: FTI Consulting Inc. (Mark Katzenstein)

    • Investment Banker: PJT Partners (Brent Herlihy, John Singh)

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

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Ad Hoc First Lien Lender Group

      • Legal: Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP (Damian Schaible, Adam Shpeen)

      • Financial Advisor: Greenhill & Co. Inc.

    • DIP Lender: Credit Suisse Loan Funding LLC

    • DIP Agent, Prepetition Super Senior Agent & Prepetition First Lien Agent: Wilmington Trust NA

      • Legal: Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer (Michael Messersmith, Sarah Grylll, Alan Glantz)

    • Prepetition Second Lien Successor Agent: GLAS America LLC & GLAS USA LLC

    • Ad Hoc Group of Tranche A Term Loan/Revolving Lenders

      • Legal: Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP (Sandeep Qusba, Soogy Lee, Edward Linden)

    • Second Lien Lenders

      • Legal: Proskauer Rose LLP (Charles Dale, Jon English)

    • Large Unsecured Creditor: AT&T

      • Legal: Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP (David Rosenzweig, Francisco Vazquez)

Updated 6/4/19 at 5:42am


😷New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - Aegerion Pharmaceuticals Inc.😷

Aegerion Pharmaceuticals Inc.

May 20, 2019

We were right and we were wrong. Back in November 2018, in “😬Biopharma is in Pain😬 ,” we snidely wrote, “Do Pills Count as ‘Healthcare’? Short Biopharma” riffing on the common trope that healthcare was a hot spot for restructuring activity.* No, we argued: the activity is really in publicly-traded biopharma companies with little to no sales, too much debt (and usually busted convertible notes) and attractive intellectual property. We went on to predict that Synergy Pharmaceuticals Inc. ($SGYP) and Aegerion Pharmaceuticals Inc. (a subsidiary of Novelion Therapeutics Inc. ($NVLN)) would both file for bankruptcy. Ding ding!!! We were right.** The former filed back in December and, now, the latter is also in bankruptcy court. Of course, with respect to the latter, we also wrote, “[c]ome February — if not sooner — it may be in bankruptcy court.” But let’s not split hairs.***

The company manufactures two approved therapies, JUXTAPID and MYALEPT, that treat rare diseases. On Sunday, we’ll discuss the future of these therapies and what the company seeks to achieve with this restructuring.

*To be fair, the healthcare space has, indeed, picked up in activity since then.

**For what it’s worth, we also predicted that Orchids Paper Products Company ($TIS) would be in bankruptcy soon, writing “This company doesn’t produce enough toilet paper to wipe away this sh*tfest. See you in bankruptcy court.” Three for three: this is precisely why — wait for the shameless plug — you should become a PETITION Member today.

***Maturity of the bridge loan was initially February 15, 2019 but the debtors had a right to extend, which they did.

  • Jurisdiction: Southern District of New York (Judge )

  • Capital Structure: $36.1mm 8% PIK ‘19 secured Novelion Intercompany Loan, $73.8mm Bridge Loan (Highbridge Capital Management LLC and Athyrium Capital Management LP), $304mm 2% unsecured convertible notes (The Bank of New York Mellon Trust Company NA)

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP (Paul Shalhoub, Andrew Mordkoff)

    • Financial Advisor/CRO: AlixPartners LLP (John Castellano)

    • Investment Banker: Moelis & Co. (Barak Klein)

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

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • DIP Agent: Cantor Fitzgerald Securities

    • Ad Hoc Group of Convertible Noteholders

      • Legal: Latham & Watkins LLP & King & Spalding LLP

      • Financial Advisor: Ducera Partners LLC

    • Novelion

      • Legal: Goodwin Proctor LLP & Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP

      • Financial Advisor: Evercore

⛽️New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - Edgemarc Energy Holdings LLC⛽️

Edgemarc Energy Holdings LLC

May 15, 2019

Pennsylvania-based Edgemarc Energy Holdings LLC and its eight affiliated debtor affiliates are the latest in a string of oil and gas related bankruptcy filings. Don’t let $73/barrel brent crude and $63/barrel West Texas Intermediate prices full you: this is one of many oil and gas filings on the near term horizon.

Edgemarc is a natural gas E&P company focused on the Appalachian Basin in Ohio and Pennsylvania; it and its affiliates control approximately 45k net acres and have drilled and developed 60 producing wells. Now, everyone knows that, right now, the Permian Basin in West Texas is the shizz and, therefore, hearing about the Appalachian Basin may put some of you on edge. But, here, there was an extraordinary externality that really helped push the company into bankruptcy, other more macro factors notwithstanding.

In September 2018, a pipeline and gathering system under construction by a third-party (ETC Northeast Pipeline LLC) exploded. This pipeline was meant to be the gathering and processing avenue for the debtors’ natural gas. Imagine spending a ton of time milking a farm full of cows only to have the production facility designed for processing and transporting the milk explode right as you were about to bring your product to market. Kinda hard to make money in that scenario, right? The same applies to drilling for natural gas: its hard to generate revenue when you can’t process, transport and sell it. And, unfortunately, repair hasn’t been easy: what was supposed to be a “within weeks” project now looks poised to push well into 2020.

According to the debtors, a subsequent dispute with ETC prevented the debtors from flowing their gas through alternative pipelines. Consequently, the debtors “had no other means of selling gas from the affected wells” and opted to “shut in” their Pennsylvania wells and pause all remaining Pennsylvania operations — a hit to 33% of the company’s production activity. Compounding matters, the debtors and ETC are now embroiled in litigation. 😬

Suffice it to say that any company that suddenly loses the ability to sell 33% of its product will struggle. Per the company:

The Debtors’ inability to sell gas from their Pennsylvania properties had a substantial negative impact on their liquidity and ability to satisfy their funded debt, contractual and other payment obligations.

Ya think?!?!? The debtors have approximately $77mm of funded debt; they also has fixed transportation services agreements pursuant to which they agreed to fixed amounts of transportation capacity with various counterparties that exposes the debtors to financial liability regardless of whether they actually transport nat gas. This is so critical, in fact, that the debtors have already filed motions seeking to reject transportation services agreements with Rover Pipeline LLC, Rockies Express Pipeline LLC, and Texas Gas Transmission LLC. Combined, those three entities constitute 3 of the top 4 creditors of the estate, to the tune of over $6mm. These obligations — along with a downward redetermination of the borrowing base under the debtors’ revolving credit facility — severely constrained the debtors’ ability to operate. The debtors have, therefore, filed for chapter 11 with the hope of finding a buyer; they do not have a stalking horse purchaser lined up (though they do have a commitment for a $107.79mm DIP from their prepetition lenders, of which $30mm is new money). The company generated consolidated net revenue of $116.9mm in fiscal 2018.

Significantly, the company is seeking to reject a “marketing service agreement” and “operational agency agreement” with BP Energy Company ($BP), pursuant to which BP agreed to purchase and receive 100% of the debtors’ nat gas capacity. We gather (see what we did there?) that it’s hard to perform under those agreements when you can’t transport your product: accordingly, BP is listed as the debtors’ largest unsecured creditor at ~$41mm. BP’s rights to setoff and/or recoupment (PETITION Note: Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP just happened to write about these two remedies this week here) will be a major facet of this case: if BP is able to exercise remedies, the debtors ability to operate post-restructuring will be threatened. Per the company:

Docket #17, Rejection Motion.

Docket #17, Rejection Motion.

The privately-held company is owned primarily by affiliates of Goldman Sachs and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension. Absent “holdup value,” we can’t imagine they’ll get any return on their investment given the circumstances.

  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware (Judge Shannon)

  • Capital Structure:

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP (Darren Klein, Lara Samet Buchwald, Aryeh Falk, Jonah Peppiatt) & (local) Landis Rath & Cobb (Adam Landis, Kerri Mumford, Kimberly Brown, Holly Smith)

    • Directors: Patrick J. Bartels Jr., Scott Lebovitz, Sebastien Gagnon, Baird Whitehead, Zvi Orvitz, Romeo Leemrijse, Verlyn Holt, Jack Golden, George Dotson, Callum Streeter, Alan Shepard

    • Financial Advisor: Opportune LLC and Dacarba LLC

    • Investment Banker: Evercore Partners

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

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Prepetition & DIP Agent: Keybank NA

      • Legal: Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP (Timothy Davidson, Joseph Rovira) & (local) Connolly Gallagher LLP (Jeffrey Wisler)

    • Equityholders: Goldman Sachs & Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board

      • Legal: Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz (Richard Mason, Emil Kleinhaus, Michael Cassel) & (local) Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP (Steven Kortanek, Patrick Jackson, Joseph Argentina Jr.)

    • ETC

      • Legal: Akerman LLP (John MItchell, David Parham, Yelena Archiyan) & (local) Pachulski Stang Ziehl & Jones LLP (Laura Davis Jones, TImothy Cairns)

🚁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 Filing - Cloud Peak Energy Inc.🌑

In what ought to come as a surprise to absolutely no one, Cloud Peak Energy Inc. ($CLD) and a slate of affiliates FINALLY filed for bankruptcy.

Let’s take a moment of silence for coal country, shall we? If this is what MAGA looks like, we’d hate to see what happens when a global downturn eventually hits. There’s gonna be blood in the water.

Sounds like hyperbole? Note that since 2016, there have been a slate of coal-related bankruptcies, i.e., Westmoreland Coal CompanyMission Coal Company LLC, and now Cloud Peak Energy Inc. Blackhawk Mining LLC appears to be waiting in the wings. We suppose it could be worse: we could be talking about oil and gas country (and we will be, we certainly will be…and SOON.).

Cloud Peak is an impressive company. Since its formation in 2008, it has become one of the largest (subbituminous thermal coal) coal producers in the US — supplying enough coal to satisfy approximately 2% of the US’ electricity demand. Its three surface mines are located in the Powder River Basin in Wyoming and Montana; it sold approximately 50mm tons of coal in 2018 to 46 domestic and foreign end users.*

In the scheme of things, Cloud Peak’s balance sheet isn’t overly complicated. We’re not talking about billions of dollars of debt here like we saw with Walter EnergyPeabody Energy, Arch Coal, Patriot Coal or Alpha Natural Resources. So, not all coal companies and coal company bankruptcies are created equal. Nevertheless, the company does have $290.4mm of ‘21 12% secured notes (Wilmington Trust NA) and $56.4mm of ‘24 6.375% unsecured notes (Wilmington Trust NA as successor trustee to Wells Fargo Bank NA) to contend with for a total of $346.8mm in funded debt liability. The company is also party to a securitization facility. And, finally, the company also has reclamation obligations related to their mines and therefore has $395mm in third-party surety bonds outstanding with various insurance companies, backed by $25.7mm in letters of credit. Coal mining is a messy business, homies.

So why bankruptcy? Why now? Per the company:

The Company’s chapter 11 filing, however, was precipitated by (i) general distress affecting the domestic U.S. thermal coal industry that produced a sustained low price environment that could not support profit margins to allow the Company to satisfy its funded debt obligations; (ii) export market price volatility that caused decreased demand from the Company’s customers in Asia; (iii) particularly challenging weather conditions in the second quarter of 2018 that caused spoil failure and significant delays in coal production through the remainder of 2018 and into 2019, which reduced cash inflows from coal sales and limited credit availability; and (iv) recent flooding in the Midwestern United States that has significantly disrupted rail service, further reducing coal sales.

To summarize, price compression caused by natural gas. Too much regulation (which, in turn, favors natural gas over coal). Too much debt. And, dare we say, global warming?!? Challenging weather and flooding must be really perplexing in coal country where global warming isn’t exactly embraced with open arms.

Now, we may be hopping to conclusions here but, these bits are telling — and are we say, mildly ironic in a tragic sort of way:

In addition to headwinds facing thermal coal producers and export market volatility, the Company’s mines suffered from unusually heavy rains affecting Wyoming and Montana in the second quarter of 2018. For perspective, the 10-year average combined rainfall for May, June, and July at the Company’s Antelope Mine is 6.79 inches. In 2018, it rained 10.2 inches during that period. While certain operational procedures put in place following heavy flooding in 2014 functioned effectively to mitigate equipment damage, the 2018 rains interrupted the Company’s mining operations considerably.

It gets worse.

The problem with rain is that the moisture therefrom causes “spoil.” Per the company:

Spoil is the term used for overburden and other waste rock removed during coal mining. The instability in the dragline pits caused wet spoil to slide into the pits that had to be removed by dragline and/or truck-shovel methods before the coal could be mined. This caused significant delays and diverted truck-shovel capacity from preliminary stripping work, which caused additional production delays at the Antelope Mine. The delays resulting from the spoil failure at the Antelope Mine caused the Company to have reduced shipments, increased costs, and delayed truck-shovel stripping in 2018. Consequently, the reduced cash inflows from coal sales limited the Company’s credit availability under the financial covenants in the Amended Credit Agreement prior to its termination, and limited access to any new forms of capital.

But, wait. There’s more:

Additionally, the severe weather affecting the Midwest region of the United States in mid-March 2019 caused, among other things, extensive flooding that damaged rail lines. One of Cloud Peak’s primary suppliers of rail transportation services – BNSF – was negatively impacted by the flooding and has been unable to provide sufficient rail transportation services to satisfy the Company’s targeted coal shipments. As of the Petition Date, BNSF’s trains have resumed operations, but are operating on a less frequent schedule because of repairs being made to rail lines damaged by the extensive flooding. As a result, the Company’s coal shipments have been materially impacted, with cash flows significantly reduced through mid-June 2019.

Riiiiiiiight. But:

More about Moore here: the tweet, as you might expect, doesn’t tell the full story.

Anywho.

The company has been burning a bit over $7mm of liquidity a month since September 2018. Accordingly, it sought strategic alternatives but was unable to find anything viable that would clear its cap stack. We gather there isn’t a whole lot of bullishness around coal mines these days.

To buy itself some time, therefore, the company engaged in a series of exchange transactions dating back to 2016. This enabled it to extinguish certain debt maturing in 2019. And thank G-d for the public markets: were it not for a February 2017 equity offering where some idiot public investors hopped in to effectively transfer their money straight into noteholder pockets, this thing probably would have filed for bankruptcy sooner. That equity offering — coupled with a preceding exchange offer — bought the company some runway to continue to explore strategic alternatives. The company engaged J.P. Morgan Securities LLC to find a partner but nothing was actionable. Ah….coal.

Thereafter, the company hired a slate of restructuring professionals to help prepare it for the inevitable. Centerview Partners took over for J.P. Morgan Securities LLC but, to date, has had no additional luck. The company filed for bankruptcy without any prospective buyers lined up.

Alas, the company filed for bankruptcy with a “sale and plan support agreement” or “SAPSA.” While this may sound like a venereal disease, what it really means is that the company has an agreement with a significant percentage of both its secured and unsecured noteholders to dual track a sale and plan process. If they can sell the debtors’ assets via a string of 363 sales, great. If they have to do a more fulsome transaction by way of a plan, sure, that also works. These consenting noteholders also settled some other disputes and support the proposed $35mm DIP financing

*Foreign customers purchased approximately 9% of ‘18 coal production.

  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware (Judge Gross)

  • Capital Structure: $290mm 12% ‘21 secured debt (Wilmington Trust NA), $56.4mm unsecured debt (BOKF NA)

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Vinson & Elkins LLP (Paul Heath, David Meyer, Jessica Peet, Lauren Kanzer, Matthew Moran, Steven Zundell, Andrew Geppert, Matthew Pyeatt, Matthew Struble, Jeremy Reichman) & (local) Richards Layton & Finger PA (Daniel DeFranceschi, John Knight)

    • Financial Advisor: FTI Consulting Inc. (Alan Boyko)

    • Investment Banker: Centerview Partners (Marc Puntus, Ryan Kielty, Johannes Preis)

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

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Major shareholders: Renaissance Technologies LLC, The Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Dimensional Fund Advisors LP, Kopernik Global Advisors, Blackrock Inc.

    • DIP Agent: Ankura Trust Company LLC

      • Legal: Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP (Damian Schaible, Aryeh Ethan Falk, Christopher Robertson) & (local) Morris Nichols Arsht & Tunnell LLP (Robert Dehney, Curtis Miller, Paige Topper)

      • Financial Advisor: Houlihan Lokey

    • Prepetition Secured Noteholder Group (Allianz Global Investors US LLC, Arena Capital Advisors LLC, Grace Brothers LP, Nomura Corporate Research and Asset Management Inc. Nuveen Alternatives Advisors LLC, Wexford Capital LP, Wolverine Asset Management LLC)

      • Legal: Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP (Damian Schaible, Aryeh Ethan Falk, Christopher Robertson) & (local) Morris Nichols Arsht & Tunnell LLP (Robert Dehney, Curtis Miller, Paige Topper)

    • Indenture Trustee: BOKF NA

      • Legal: Arent Fox LLP (Andrew Silfen, Jordana Renert) & (local) Womble Bond Dickinson US LLP (Matthew Ward)

    • Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors (BOKF NA, Nelson Brothers Mining Services LLC, Wyoming Machinery Company, Cummins Inc., ESCO Group LLC, Tractor & Equipment Co., Kennebec Global)

      • Legal: Morrison & Foerster LLP (Lorenzo Marinuzzi, Jennifer Marines, Todd Goren, Daniel Harris, Mark Lightner) & Morris James LLP (Carl Kunz III, Brya Keilson, Eric Monzo)

      • Investment Banker: Jefferies LLC (Leon Szlezinger)

Update: 7/7/19 #379

New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - Hospital Acquisition LLC

Hospital Acquisition LLC

May 6 & 7, 2019

Texas-based Hospital Acquisition LLC and dozens of other affiliated companies operating in the acute care hospital, behavioral health and out-patient would care space have filed for bankruptcy in the District of Delaware.* The debtors operate 17 facilities in 9 states for a total of 865 beds; their revenue “derives from the provision of patient services and is received through Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements and payments from private payors.

Technically, this is a chapter 22. In 2012, the debtors’ predecessor reeled from the effects of Hurricane Katrina and reduced reimbursement rates and filed for bankruptcy. The case ended in a sale of substantially all assets to the debtors.

So, why is the company in bankruptcy again? Well, to begin with, re-read the final sentence of the first paragraph. That’s why. Per the company:

…internal and external factors have lead the Debtors to an unmanageable level of debt service obligations and an untenable liquidity position. In 2015, Medicare’s establishment of patient criteria to qualify as an LTAC-compliant patient facility led to significant reimbursement rate declines over the course of 2015 and 2016 as changes were implemented. Average reimbursement rates for site neutral patients, representing approximately 57% of 2016 cases, is estimated to drop from $23,000 to $9,000 across the portfolio. When rates declined sharply, the Debtors were unable to adjust. Further, the number of patients that now qualify by Medicare to have services provided in an LTAC setting has declined substantially, resulting in a significant oversupply of LTAC beds in the market.

To offset these uncontrollable trends, the company undertook efforts to convert a new business plan focused around, among other things, closing marginally performing hospitals and diversifying the business into post-acute care “to compete in the evolving value-based health care environment.” To help effectuate this plan, the debtors re-financed its then-existing revolver, entered into its $15mm “priming” term loan, and amended and extended its then-existing term loan facility. After this transaction, the company had total consolidated long-term debt obligations totaling approximately $185mm.

So, more debt + revised business plan + evolving macro healthcare environment = ?? A revenue shortfall, it turns out. Which put the debtors in a precarious position vis-a-vis the covenants baked into the debtors’ debt docs. Whoops. Gotta hate when that happens.

The debtors then engaged Houlihan Lokey to explore strategic alternatives and engaged their lenders. At the time of filing, however, the debtors do not have a stalking horse agreement in place; they do hope, however, to have one in place by mid-July.

*There are also certain non-debtor home health owners and operators in the corporate family that are not, at this time, chapter 11 debtors.

  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware (Judge Shannon)

  • Capital Structure: $23.9mm RCF, $9.4mm LOCs, $15mm “Priming Term Loan” ($7.7mm funded), $136.8mm TL

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP (Scott Alberino, Kevin Eide, Sarah Link Schultz) & (local) Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor LLP (M. Blake Cleary, Jaime Luton Chapman, Joseph Mulvihill, Betsy Feldman)

    • Financial Advisor: Houlihan Lokey Inc. (Geoffrey Coutts)

    • Investment Banker: BRG Capital Advisors LLC

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

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Equityholders: Monarch Master Funding Ltd., Twin Haven Special Opportunities Fund IV LP, Blue Mountain Credit Alternatives Master Fund LP, Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner & Smith Inc., Oakstone Ventures Inc.

    • White Oak Healthcare Finance LLC

      • Legal: King & Spalding LLP (Arthur Steinberg, Scott Davidson) & (local) The Rosner Law Group LLC (Frederick Rosner, Jason Gibson)

    • Marathon Asset Management

      • Legal: Ropes & Gray LLP (Matthew Roose)

    • Prepetition Term Loan Agents: Seaport Loan Products LLC & Wilmington Trust NA

      • Legal: Shearman & Sterling LLP (Ned Schodek, Jordan Wishnew) & (local) Potter Anderson & Corroon LLP (Jeremy Ryan, R. Stephen McNeill, D. Ryan Slaugh)

    • Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors

      • Legal: Greenberg Traurig LLP (David Cleary, Nancy Peterman, Dennis Meloro) & (local) Bayard PA (Justin Alberto, Erin Fay, Daniel Brogan)

Updated 5/18

New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - New Cotai Holdings LLC

New Cotai Holdings LLC

May 1, 2019

New Cotai Holdings LLC and three affiliated debtors filed for bankruptcy in the Southern District of New York on the basis of New Cotai Ventures LLC, a NY LLC, having cash held in a bank account in White Plains New York (as of when, we wonder). The debtors were formed for the purpose of investing in Studio City International Holdings Limited, have no employees, and are otherwise managed by sponsor, Silver Point Capital LP. The declarant supporting the debtors’ chapter 11 filing is an independent director who was put into place literally 2 days before the filing. Yup, 2 whole days.

Studio City International Holdings Limited is a wretched hive of scum and villany. Sorry, that’s not right. That’s us trying to make this more interesting than it is. In truth, its an “integrated resort comprising entertainment, retail, hotel and gaming facilities” located in Macau (that’s China, people). The project has made it past Phase I of construction but has stalled out there: the rest of the project will require several more years. In October 2018, the company IPO’d 28.75mm American Depository Shares at $12.50/share.

To further capitalize the project, two of the debtors, as co-issuers, issued $380mm of 10.625% PIK Notes in 2013 due May 2019. Curious to know how 10.625% PIK adds up? The current principal balance of the notes is now $856mm.

Now, not to state the obvious, but to paydown Notes on maturity, you kinda need to have some moolah. And considering that the project is only past Phase I with much more work to do…well, you see where we are going here. The company notes:

The Debtors’ ability to satisfy their obligations under the Notes is directly tied to the development and success of the Studio City project. Due to delays in the development of the Studio City project, a reduced allocation of gaming tables from the government, and some unanticipated declines in the Macau gaming market, the Investment has not yet achieved sufficient market value in light of the highly illiquid and unreliable market conditions that have developed following the IPO, making a refinancing impracticable. Therefore, through no fault of their own, the Debtors were unable to satisfy the Notes obligations by their maturity.

Listen guys: you ain’t getting Matt Damon, George Clooney and other whales at your tables if you don’t have VIP tables. Obvi. Second, it sounds like the project hired the quintessential New York City-based general contractor. “Yeah, sure, the project will cost $30mm and take 1 month” only to cost “an additional $300 million” and take literally years. Of course “[c]onstruction costs came in greater than expected.” Isn’t that par for the course in hotel development? The company now has until 2021 to finish Phase II of the project. It sounds like it will need it.

Of course, you have to admire the entrepreneurial enthusiasm:

Notwithstanding the aforementioned challenges, the Debtors believe that the Investment continues to represent a significant economic opportunity—the value of which is not accurately represented in the current market prices of the ADS. Indeed, should the Studio City project continue to develop on its currently anticipated timeframe, the Debtors expect the Investment to generate sufficient value to repay the Notes in full.

The debtors must NOT be expecting a downturn. Gaming usually doesn’t fare too well during one of those. And Chinese growth hasn’t exactly been at levels enjoyed over the last decade or so. But, fingers crossed.

The debtors are negotiating with an Ad Hoc Group of noteholders in an effort to address this state of affairs. They have latitude: Silver Point has committed to a $6.25mm DIP with, among other favorable terms to the debtors, no milestones and a 12-month maturity (with an option to extend a subsequent 12 months). This DIP was not marketed and so the early part of the case will be spent presumably searching for alternatives. Because lenders surely love the idea of providing a DIP, the main purpose of which is to pay Skadden Arps’ and the Ad Hoc Group’s fees.

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

  • Capital Structure: $856mm (Wells Fargo Bank NA)

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP (Jay Goffman, Mark McDermott, Evan Hill)

    • Managing Member: Drivetrain Advisors LLC (John Brecker)

    • Financial Advisor: Houlihan Lokey Capital Inc.

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

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Wells Fargo Bank NA

      • Legal: Arent Fox LLP (Andrew Silfen, Beth Brownstein)

    • Sponsor: Silver Point Capital LP

New Chapter 11 Filing - Sungard Availability Services Capital Inc.

Sungard Availability Services Capital Inc.

May 1, 2019

Pennsylvania-based Sungard Availability Services Capital Inc., a provider of “critical production and recovery services to global enterprise companies,” with $977mm of net revenue and $203mm of EBITDA in fiscal 2018 filed a prepackaged chapter 11 plan in the Southern District of New York on Wednesday and, if you blinked, you may have missed its residency in bankruptcy. Indeed, some lost their minds because Kirkland & Ellis LLP was able to shepherd the case in and out of bankruptcy in less than 24 hours — breaking the previous record only recently set in FullBeauty. Yes, people care about these things.*

The upshot of this expeditious bankruptcy case is that (a) the company shed nearly $900mm of debt from its balance sheet (reducing debt down to approximately $400-450mm) and (b) transferred 89% ownership to a variety of debt-for-equity swapping funds such as GSO Capital Partners, Angelo Gordon & Co., and Carlyle Group (who will also receive $300mm in senior secured term loan paper). Major equity holders — Bain Capital Integral Investors LLC, Blackstone Capital Partners IV LP, Blackstone GT Communications Partners LP, KKR Millennium Fund LP, Providence Equity Partners V LP, Silver Lake Partners II LP, TPG Partners IV LP — had their equity wiped out. We had previously highlighted KKR’s investment here in “A Hot-Potato Plan of Reorganization. Short BDC Retail Exposure,” discussing the broader context of BDC lending. This is what the capital structure looks like and will look like:

Source: Disclosure Statement

Source: Disclosure Statement

That balance sheet is the driver behind the bankruptcy filing. Per the company:

This legacy capital structure was created based upon the Company’s historical operating model and performance and is unsustainable under current market conditions. When the capital structure was put in place, the Company benefited from a larger revenue base with substantially higher free cash flow. As business conditions evolved and the Company’s revenue declined, cash flow available to service debt and invest in products and services substantially declined. Consolidated net revenue declined by approximately 18% from approximately $1.2 billion in 2016 to approximately $977 million in 20188 while adjusted EBITDA margins remained within a range of approximately 20% to 22%. Negative net cash flow from 2016 to 2018 was approximately $80 million.

In other words, this is as clear-cut a balance sheet restructuring that you can get. Indeed, general unsecured claims are — as you might expect from a prepackaged plan of reorganization — riding through unimpaired. This consensual restructuring is clearly the right result. Getting it in and out of court so quickly is a bonus.

Yet, lest anyone get too high on their own supply, it’s important to note that, while this is a good result under the circumstances, there is a significant amount of value destruction illustrated by this filing. The term lenders are getting merely an estimated 50-73% recovery while the noteholders are getting 7-14%**. Now, it IS reasonable to expect that the “par guys” blew out of this situation long ago. And it is also reasonable to assume that the current holders of loans and notes got in at a significant discount so “value destruction” really is a matter of timing/pricing. For the avoidance of doubt, however, there’s no question that certain lenders experienced some pain on the path to this filing. Here is the chart representing the company’s notes:

Screen Shot 2019-05-03 at 11.12.24 AM.png

So, while some are surely celebrating, others are surely licking their wounds.

*We don’t really want to be too flip about this. As critics of the bankruptcy process, we’re all for seeing more efficient uses of the bankruptcy court — even if that does mean that fees were run up pre-petition without any oversight whatsoever.

**You always have to take these recovery amounts with a grain of salt. In case the rampant Chapter 22s haven’t already taught you that.

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

  • Capital Structure:

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Kirkland & Ellis LLP (Jonathan Henes, Emily Geier, Ryan Blaine Bennett, Laura Krucks

    • Board of Directors: Darren Abrahamson, Patrick J. Bartels Jr., Randy Hendricks, John Park, David Treadwell

    • Financial Advisor/CRO: AlixPartners LLP (Eric Koza)

    • Investment Banker: Centerview Partners (Samuel Greene)

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

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • DIP Agent: JPMorgan Chase Bank NA

    • Secured Lender Group

      • Jones Day (Scott Greenberg, Michael Cohen, Nicholas Morin)

      • Financial Advisor: Houlihan Lokey Capital Inc.

    • Crossover Group

      • Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP (Philip Dublin, Naomi Moss)

      • Financial Advisor: PJT Partners LP

    • Large Equityholders: Bain Capital Integral Investors LLC, Blackstone Capital Partners IV LP, Blackstone GT Communications Partners LP, KKR Millennium Fund LP, Providence Equity Partners V LP, Silver Lake Partners II LP, TPG Partners IV LP

      • Legal: Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison LLP (Brian Hermann, Jacob Adlerstein)

🚽New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - Orchids Paper Products Company🚽

Orchids Paper Products Company

April 1, 2019

We first wrote about Orchids Paper Products Company ($TIS) back in November 2018 in “🚽More Trouble in Paper-Ville (Short A$$-Wipes)🚽.” It is a piece worth revisiting because it sums up the situation rather nicely. We wrote:

Orchids Paper Products Company ($TIS) is a Okahoma-based producer of bulk tissue paper which is later converted into finished products like paper towels, toilet paper and paper napkins; it sells its products for use in the “at home” market under private label to dollar stores, discount retailers and grocery stores. Its largest customers include the likes of Dollar General Corp. ($DG)Walmart Inc. ($WMT) and Family Dollar/Dollar Tree, which, combined, account for over 60% of the company’s sales. Given the rise of the dollar stores and discount retailers and the rise in private label generally, you’d think that this company would be killing it. Spoiler alert: it’s not. In fact, it is, by definition, insolvent.

And:

This company doesn’t produce enough toilet paper to wipe away this sh*tfest. See you in bankruptcy court.

And that’s precisely where they (and affiliates) are now — in the District of Delaware.

And the story hasn’t really changed: the debtors still struggle from operational issues related to their facilities, too much competition (causing margin compression and loss of pricing power), rising input costs, and customer defections. To make matters worse, given the debtors’ deteriorating financial position, raw materials suppliers reduced credit terms given the debtors’ public reporting of its troubles. Consequently, virtually all of the debtors’ financial metrics got smoked. Gross profit? Smoked. Cash flow? Smoked. Net income? Smoooooooked.

Speaking of “smooooooked,” the company twice notes its termination of their investment banker, Guggenheim Securities. Bankers get replaced all of the time: not entirely sure why they felt the need to make such an issue of it here. That said, Guggenheim apparently marketed the company for months without finding a prospective buyer that would clear the debt. The company, therefore, hired Houlihan Lokey ($HL) to market the company. The result? They couldn’t find a buyer that would clear the debt. Nothing like paying a new banker AND presumably paying some sort of tail to your old banker just to end up with your pre-petition secured lender as your stalking horse bidder (and DIP lender)! Sheesh.

As we said, “[t]his company doesn’t produce enough toilet paper to wipe away this sh*tfest.”

  • Jurisdiction: (Judge Walrath)

  • Capital Structure: $187.3mm RCF/TL (Ankura Trust Company, L.L.C.), $11.1mm New Market Tax Loan

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Polsinelli PC (Christopher Ward, Shanti Katona, Jerry Switzer Jr.)

    • Board of Directors: Steven Berlin, John Guttilla, Douglas Hailey, Elaine MacDonald, Mark Ravich, Jeffrey Schoen

    • Financial Advisor: Deloitte Transactions and Business Analytics LLP (Richard Infantino)

    • Investment Banker: Houlihan Lokey Capital Inc.

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

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Large Equityholder: BML Investment Partners LP

    • Prepetition RCF Admin Agent: Ankura Trust Company

    • DIP Admin Agent: Black Diamond Commercial Finance LLC

    • DIP Lender: Orchids Investment LLC

      • Legal: Winston & Strawn LLP (Daniel McGuire) & (local) Fox Rothschild LLP (Seth Niederman)

    • Stalking Horse Bidder

      • Legal: Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP (Kimberly Debeers, Ron Meisler)

    • Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors

      • Legal: Lowenstein Sandler LLP (Mary Seymour) & CKR Law (David Banker)

Updated 5/18

🚁New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - PHI Inc.🚁

PHI Inc.

March 15, 2019

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

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

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

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

This is simple supply and demand:

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

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

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

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

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

*****

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Professionals:

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

    • Legal (corporate): Jones Walker LLP

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

    • Investment Banker: Houlihan Lokey Capital Inc.

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

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Prepetition TL & DIP Lender: Blue Torch Capital LP

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

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

      • Financial Advisor: PJT Partners LP (Michael Genereaux)

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

    • Thirty Two LLC

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

      • Legal:

    • Official Committee of Equity Security Holders

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

      • Financial Advisor: Imperial Capital LLC (David Burns)

New Chapter 11 Filing - CTI Foods LLC

CTI Foods LLC

March 10, 2019

CTI Foods LLC, a large independent provider of “custom food solutions” to major hamburger, sandwich and Mexican restaurant chains…wait, stop. “Custom food solutions"? Seriously? Does everything need to be made to sound technological these days? Homies produce hamburgers, cooked sausage patties, grilled chicken, shredded beef and chicken, fajita meat, ham, Philly steak, dry sausage, beans, soups, macaroni & cheese, chili, sauces, and other sheet pan and retail meals through seven production facilities; they service QSRs and fast casual restaurants, including four of the top six hamburger restaurant chains, four of the top six sandwich chains, and “the top Mexican restaurant chain.” Queremos Taco Bell?!? Anyway, that’s basically it: let’s not over-complicate matters.

In any event, lenders must love custom food solutions because they’ve offered a solution of their own…to the company’s balance sheet. The company filed a prepackaged bankruptcy in the District of Delaware with substantial numbers of holders of first lien and second lien term loans hopping on board in support of the plan of reorganization (though not enough second lien term lenders to establish a fully consensual plan by bankruptcy thresholds). The filing is predicated upon accomplishing the results set forth in this handy-dandy chart:

Source: First Day Declaration

Source: First Day Declaration

Pursuant to the plan, the first lien term lenders will receive some take-back paper and equity in the reorganized company, the second lenders will either equitize or cancel all $140mm of second lien term loan claims and existing equity will get wiped out. Trade creditors will ride through unimpaired. The company has secured a $155mm DIP commitment, the proceeds of which will be used, in part, to take out the ABL, and provide liquidity to fund the cases. Remaining funds will roll into an exit facility for the company to use post-emergence from bankruptcy. Just one thing: the chart shows a $50mm exit ABL and yet the company’s papers note a new $110mm exit ABL. Insert confusion here. 🤔

Confusion aside, this is a real business: the debtors apparently generated $1.2b of revenue in 2018 (and $29mm of EBITDA). Unfortunately, the private equity bros realized that back in 2013 when Thomas H. Lee Partners and Goldman Sachs & Co. acquired it from Littlejohn & Co. LLC. Per the company, the “current capital structure is the result of organic growth coupled with…strategic acquisitions….” So, uh, the capital structure didn’t fund the sponsor-to-sponsor purchase? Or is that “organic growth?” We suspect the former because, well, private equity, right? Debt is their jam. Oh, and the intercreditor agreement dated June 28, 2013 — mere months after the transaction — reflects that the debt was in place then rather than subsequently added to finance “organic growth.”* This is why PE firms pay firms like Weil the big bucks: first-class subterfuge. But…busted!

A quick aside, buried in paragraph 55 of the First Day Declaration is a cursory statement about the Restructuring Committee’s investigation into the company PE overlords. The company states:

On November 20, 2018, the Restructuring Committee separately retained Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP (“Katten”) as independent counsel. Specifically, the Restructuring Committee, with the assistance of Katten, conducted a thorough investigation into whether any potentially material claims or causes of action existed against directors, officers, or existing equity holders of the Debtors, including Goldman Sachs and T.H. Lee. Katten made extensive diligence requests to the Debtors, reviewed materials provided in response, interviewed several potential witnesses, and prepared a report for the Restructuring Committee evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of any such potential claims or causes of action. Ultimately, based on that investigation and the report prepared in connection therewith, the Restructuring Committee determined it was unlikely that any such meritorious claims or causes of action exist that ought to be pursued.

It’s a good thing trade is riding through: there likely won’t be an official committee of unsecured creditors to test this conclusion.

So, aside from the company-crushing transaction-induced debt placed on the company by its private equity overlords, why is the company in bankruptcy? Here’s where you really need to read between the lines: above we noted that the company “service[s] QSRs and fast casual restaurants, including four of the top six hamburger restaurant chains, four of the top six sandwich chains, and ‘the top Mexican restaurant chain.’” “Service” is the key word. We don’t see the word “exclusively” preceding it. Here’s the company:

CTI’s recent profitability decline is attributable in part to an increase in the number of protein processors in competitive segments of the food manufacturing and foodservice industries, which led to losses in customer shares and a decrease in new business for the Company. Simultaneously … the Company’s costs have increased over time. The combination of increased competition and increased costs resulted in lower volumes and narrower profit margins. (emphasis added)

Costs increased for a number of reasons — integration of new facilities, etc. — but the most disturbing one is food quality control. Per the company:

The Company’s profitability also suffered from food quality incidents in 2017 and 2018. Although the Company quickly identified and remedied the issues, those occurrences led to a loss of customer sales and to the incurrence of significant costs in remedying the situation and ensuring the integrity of products manufactured on a go-forward basis. These costs, albeit temporary, have collectively had a material impact on the Company’s recent profitability levels.

Yikes. That’s no bueno.

Now, there is some good news here. First, the company appears to have improved EBITDA in Q4 ‘18. Second, this plan is mostly consensual. And, third, the prepackaged nature of this plan will help the company accomplish their restructuring in a speedy six weeks, as planned. Food safety depends on it.

*$25mm of the principal amount of first lien term loans outstanding is attributable to a 2016 acquisition. To be fair.

  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware (Judge Sontchi)

  • Capital Structure: see above.     

  • Company Professionals:

    • Legal: Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP (Matthew Barr, Ronit Berkovich, Lauren Tauro, Clifford Carlson, David Li, Michael Godbe) & (local) Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor LLP (M. Blake Cleary, Jaime Luton Chapman, Shane Reil)

    • Legal to Restructuring Committee: Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP

    • Financial Advisor/CRO: AlixPartners LLP (Kent Percy)

    • Investment Banker: Centerview Partners LLC (Karn Chopra)

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

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Prepetition Credit Agreement Agent: Wells Fargo Bank NA

      • Legal: Otterbourg PC (Andrew Kramer) & (local) Richards Layton & Finger PA (Mark Collins, Jason Madron)

    • Ad Hoc Group of Term Lenders & DIP Term Agent ($155mm): Cortland Capital Market Services LLC

      • Legal: Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP (Damian Schaible, Michelle McGreal, Stephen Piraino) & (local) Morris Nichols Arsht & Tunnell LLP (Robert Dehney, Curtis Miller, Matthew Harvey)

    • ABL DIP & Exit Agent ($235mm): Barclays Bank PC

      • Legal: Sherman & Sterling LLP (Joel Moss, Jordan Wishnew) & (local) Richards Layton & Finger PA (Mark Collins, Jason Madron)

New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - Aceto Corporation

Aceto Corporation

February 19, 2019

In November in “🎬🎥Moviepass Falters; Market Chuckles🎬🎥,” we highlighted how Aceto Corporation ($ACET) had announced that it was pursuing strategic alternatives on the heels of obtaining a waiver of covenant non-compliance. It appears that its pursuit was (somewhat) fruitful.

Yesterday the company filed for bankruptcy in the District of New Jersey with intent to sell its chemicals business assets to New Mountain Capital for $338mm in cash, plus the assumption of certain liabilities (subject to adjustments). It also intends to sell another subsidiary, Rising Pharmaceuticals, while in bankruptcy and prior to the end of its fiscal year on June 30, 2019.

The company’s pre-petition capital structure consists of:

  • an $85mm 9.5%-11.5% secured revolving loan (Wells Fargo Bank NA);

  • a $120mm 11.5% secured term loan (as part of the same A/R Credit Agreement as the above); and

  • $143.75mm of 2% convertible senior notes due 2020 (Citibank NA).

Carry the one, add the two: that’s a total of $348.75mm of debt. Which means that the purchase price of the chemicals business doesn’t even cover the company’s debt. Here’s to hoping the Rising Pharmaceuticals business fetches a good price. To be fair, the company did end its fiscal 2018 with $103.9mm of cash.

Pre-petition lenders led by pre-petition agent, Wells Fargo Bank NA, have committed to providing the company with a $60mm DIP credit facility.

  • Jurisdiction: D. of New Jersey (Judge )

  • Capital Structure: see above.

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Lowenstein Sandler LLP (Kenneth Rosen, Michael Etkin, Paul Kizel, Jeffrey Cohen, Philip Gross)

    • Financial Advisor/CFO: AlixPartners LLP (Rebecca Roof)

    • Investment Banker: PJT Partners LP

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

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • DIP Agent and Pre-petition Agent: Wells Fargo Bank NA

      • Legal: McGuireWoods LLP (Kenneth Noble)