New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - Triangle Petroleum Corporation

Triangle Petroleum Corporation

May 8, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware (Judge Walrath)

  • Capital Structure: see above.

  • Professionals:

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

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

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

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

  • Other Parties in Interest:

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

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

New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - 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 Filing - Southcross Energy Partners LP⛽️

Southcross Energy Partners LP

April 1, 2019

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

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

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

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

  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware (Judge Walrath)

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

  • Professionals:

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

    • Financial Advisor: Alvarez & Marsal LLC

    • Investment Banker: Evercore Group LLC

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

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Prepetition RCF & Unsecured Agent: Wells Fargo Bank NA

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

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

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

    • Post-Petition Lenders and Ad Hoc Group

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

    • Southcross Holdings LP

      • Legal: Debevoise & Plimpton LLP (Natasha Labovitz)

    • Stalking Horse Bidder:

Updated 9:39 CT

New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - F+W Media Inc.

F+W Media Inc.

March 10, 2019

WAAAAAAY back in September 2018, we highlighted in our Members’-only piece, “Online Education & ‘Community’ (Long Helen Mirren),” that esteemed author and professor Clayton Christensen was bullish about the growth of online education and bearish about colleges and universities in the US. We also wrote that Masterclass, a SF-based online education platform that gives students “access” to lessons from the likes of Helen Mirren(acting), Malcolm Gladwell (writing) and Ken Burns (documentary film making) had just raised $80mm in Series D financing, bringing its total fundraising to $160mm. Online education is growing, we noted, comporting nicely with Christensen’s thesis.

But we didn’t stop there. We counter-punched by noting the following:

Yet, not all online educational tools are killing it. Take F+W Media Inc., for instance. F+W is a New York-based private equity owned content and e-commerce company; it publishes magazines, books, digital products like e-books and e-magazines, produces online video, offers online education, and operates a variety of e-commerce channels that support the various subject matters it specializes in, e.g., arts & crafts, antiques & collectibles, and writing. Writer’s Digest is perhaps its best known product. Aspiring writers can go there for online and other resources to learn how to write.

For the last several years F+W has endeavored to shift from its legacy print business to a more digital operation; it is also beginning to show cracks. Back in January, the company’s CEO, COO and CTO left the company. A media and publishing team from FTI Consulting Inc. ($FTI) is (or at least was) embedded with new management. The company has been selling non-core assets (most recently World Tea Media). Its $125mm 6.5% first lien term loan due June 2019 was recently bid at 63 cents on the dollar (with a yield-to-worst of 74.8% — yields are inversely proportional to price), demonstrating, to put it simply, a market view that the company may not be able to pay the loan (or refinance the loan at or below the current economics) when it comes due.

Unlike MasterClass and Udacity and others, F+W didn’t start as an all-digital enterprise. The shift from a legacy print media business to a digital business is a time-consuming and costly one. Old management got that process started; new management will need to see it through, managing the company’s debt in the process. If the capital markets become less favorable and/or the business doesn’t show that the turnaround can result in meaningful revenue, the company could be F(+W)’d(emphasis added)

Nailed it.

On March 10, 2019, F+W Media Inc., a multi-media company owning and operating print and digital media platforms, filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in the District of Delaware along with several affiliated entities. We previously highlighted Writer’s Digest, but the company’s most successful revenue streams are its “Crafts Community” ($32.5mm of revenue in 2018) and “Artist’s Network” ($.8.7mm of revenue in 2018); it also has a book publishing business that generated $22mm in 2018. In terms of “master classes,” the bankruptcy papers provide an intimate look into just how truly difficult it is to transform a legacy print business into a digital multi-media business.

The numbers are brutal. The company notes that:

“In the years since 2015 alone, the Company’s subscribers have decreased from approximately 33.4 million to 21.5 million and the Company’s advertising revenue has decreased from $20.7 million to $13.7 million.”

This, ladies and gentlemen, reflects in concrete numbers, what many in media these days have been highlighting about the ad-based media model. The company continues:

Over the past decade, the market for subscription print periodicals of all kinds, including those published by the Company, has been in decline as an increasing amount of content has become available electronically at little or no cost to readers. In an attempt to combat this decline, the Company began looking for new sources of revenue growth and market space for its enthusiast brands. On or around 2008, the Company decided to shift its focus to e-commerce upon the belief that its enthusiast customers would purchase items from the Company related to their passions besides periodicals, such as craft and writing supplies. With its large library of niche information for its hobbyist customers, the Company believed it was well-positioned to make this transition.

What’s interesting is that, rather than monetize their “Communities” directly, the company sought to pursue an expensive merchandising strategy that required a significant amount of upfront investment. The company writes:

In connection with this new approach, the Company took on various additional obligations across its distribution channel, including purchasing the merchandise it would sell online, storing merchandise in leased warehouses, marketing merchandise on websites, fulfilling orders, and responding to customer service inquiries. Unfortunately, these additional obligations came at a tremendous cost to the Company, both in terms of monetary loss and the deterioration of customer relationships.

In other words, rather than compete as a media company that would serve (and monetize) its various niche audiences, the company apparently sought to use its media as a marketing arm for physical products — in essence, competing with the likes of Amazon Inc. ($AMZN)Walmart Inc. ($WMT) and other specialty hobbyist retailers. As if that wasn’t challenging enough, the company’s execution apparently sucked sh*t:

As a consequence of this shift in strategic approach, the Company was required to enter into various technology contracts which increased capital expenditures by 385% in 2017 alone. And, because the Company had ventured into fields in which it lacked expertise, it soon realized that the technology used on the Company’s websites was unnecessary or flawed, resulting in customer service issues that significantly damaged the Company’s reputation and relationship with its customers. By example, in 2018 in the crafts business alone, the Company spent approximately $6 million on its efforts to sell craft ecommerce and generated only $3 million in revenue.

Last we checked, spending $2 to make $1 isn’t good business. Well, unless you’re Uber or Lyft, we suppose. But those are transformative visionary companies (or so the narrative goes). Here? We’re talking about arts and crafts. 🙈

As if that cash burn wasn’t bad enough, in 2013 the company entered into a $135mm secured credit facility ($125mm TL; $10mm RCF) to fund its operations. By 2017, the company owed $99mm in debt and was in default of certain covenants (remember those?) under the facility. Luckily, it had some forgiving lenders. And by “forgiving,” we mean lenders who were willing to equitize the loan, reduce the company’s indebtedness by $100mm and issue a new amended and restated credit facility of $35mm (as well as provide a new $15mm tranche) — all in exchange for a mere 97% of the company’s equity (and some nice fees, we imagine). Savage!

As if the spend $2 to make $1 thing wasn’t enough to exhibit that management wasn’t, uh, “managing” so well, there’s this:

The Company utilized its improved liquidity position as a result of the Restructuring to continue its efforts to evolve from a legacy print business to an e-commerce business. However, largely as a result of mismanagement, the Company exhausted the entire $15 million of the new funding it received in the six (6) months following the Restructuring. In those six (6) months, the Company’s management dramatically increased spending on technology contracts, merchandise to store in warehouses, and staffing while the Company was faltering and revenue was declining. The Company’s decision to focus on e-commerce and deemphasize print and digital publishing accelerated the decline of the Company’s publishing business, and the resources spent on technology hurt the Company’s viability because the technology was flawed and customers often had issues with the websites.

What happened next? Well, management paid themselves millions upon millions of dollars in bonuses! Ok, no, just kidding but ask yourself: would you have really been surprised if that were so?? Instead, apparently the board of directors awoke from a long slumber and decided to FINALLY sh*tcan the management team. The board brought in a new CEO and hired FTI Consulting Inc. ($FTI) to help right the ship. They quickly discovered that the e-commerce channel was sinking the business (PETITION Note: this is precisely why many small startup businesses build their e-commerce platforms on top of the likes of Shopify Inc. ($SHOP) — to avoid precisely the e-commerce startup costs and issues F+W experienced here.).

Here is where you insert the standard operational restructuring playbook. Someone built out a 13-week cash flow model and it showed that the company was bleeding cash. Therefore, people got fired and certain discreet assets got sold. The lenders, of course, took some of those sale proceeds to setoff some of their debt. The company then refreshed the 13-week cash flow model and…lo and behold…it was still effed! Why? It still carried product inventory and had to pay for storage, it was paying for more lease space than it needed, and its migration of e-commerce to partnerships with third party vendors, while profitable, didn’t have meaningful enough margin (particularly after factoring in marketing expenses). So:

Realizing that periodic asset sales are not a long-term operational solution, the Company’s board requested alternative strategies for 2019, ranging from a full liquidation to selling a significant portion of the Company’s assets to help stabilize operations. Ultimately, the Company determined that the only viable alternative, which would allow it to survive while providing relief from its obligations, was to pursue a sale transaction within the context of a chapter 11 filing.

Greenhill & Co. Inc. ($GHL) is advising the company with respect to a sale of the book publishing business. FTI is handling the sale of the company’s Communities business. The company hopes both processes are consummated by the end of May and middle of June, respectively. The company secured an $8mm DIP credit facility to fund the cases.

And that DIP ended up being the source of some controversy at the First Day hearing. Yesterday morning, Judge Gross reportedly rebuked the lenders for seeking a 20% closing fee on the $8mm DIP; he suggested 10%. Per The Wall Street Journal:

Judge Gross said he didn’t want to play “chicken” with the lenders, but that he didn’t believe they should use the bankruptcy financing to recoup what they were owed before the chapter 11 filing.

Wow. Finally some activist push-back on excessive bankruptcy fees! Better late than never.

  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware (Judge Gross)

  • Capital Structure:

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor LLP (Pauline Morgan, Kenneth Enos, Elizabeth Justison, Allison Mielke, Jared Kochenash)

    • Financial Advisor: FTI Consulting Inc. (Michael Healy)

    • Investment Banker: Greenhill & Co.

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

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Prepetition & Postpetition DIP Agent ($8mm): Fortress Credit Co. LLC)

      • Legal: Halperin Battaglia Benzija LLP (Alan Halperin, Walter Benzija, Julie Goldberg) & (local) Bielili & Klauder LLC (David Klauder)

    • DIP Lenders: Drawbridge Special Opportunities Fund LP, New F&W Media M Holdings Corp LLC, PBB Investments III LLC, CION Investment Corporation, Ellington Management Group, or affiliates thereof to be determined.

    • Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors (LSC Communications US, Inc. and Palm Coast Data LLC)

      • Legal: Arent Fox LLP (Robert Hirsh, Jordana Renert) & (local) Morris James LLP (Eric Monzo, Brya Keilson)

      • Financial Advisor: B. Riley FBR (Adam Rosen)

Updated 4/23

New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - DIESEL USA, Inc.

DIESEL USA, Inc.

March 5, 2019

Three things immediately occurred to us when we saw the news that Diesel USA Inc. filed for bankruptcy in the District of Delaware:

  1. That makes perfect sense — Jersey Shore went off the air a long time ago;

  2. This is “The Mattress Firm Effect” in action — a retailer using a quick trip in bankruptcy to, on an expedited basis, flush out some burdensome leases and otherwise leave parties in interest unimpaired; and

  3. More surprising than the company filing for bankruptcy is the law firm filing it for bankruptcy. Arent Fox LLP, while a fine firm for sure, isn’t exactly known for its debtor-side chops. Just saying.

The numbers around this one are…well…interesting. The company’s brick-and-mortar retail operations consist of 28 retail store locations in 11 states, comprised of 17 full-price retail stores and 11 factory outlet stores. Net sales were:

  • In 2014: $83mm for full-price retail and $42mm for outlet (Total: $125mm); and

  • In 2018: $38mm for full-price retail and $34.5mm for outlet (Total: $72.5mm).

In terms of percentages:

  • In 2014: brick and mortar represented 64% of net sales; and

  • In 2018: brick and mortar represented 70% of net sales.

We see a couple of significant problems here.

Despite the superlatives that the company’s CRO generously uses to describe the company, i.e., “cutting-edge,” and “cultural icon,” the numbers reflect a BRAND — let alone the business — in significant trouble. Sure, net sales are down generally, but the distribution has gotten wildly askew. The numbers reflect a bare reality: Diesel simply isn't a brand people will pay full price for anymore. This couldn’t be more stark. And that’s a big problem when the company is (or was) party to expensive height-of-the-real-estate-market leases in prime locations like Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. Diesel, quite simply, isn’t “Fifth Avenue,” let alone “Madison Avenue.”* We’re not convinced the company is being realistic when it says that it has “retained a loyal customer base.” The numbers plainly say otherwise. Moreover, in an age where digital sales are increasingly more important, the business has become MORE dependent on brick-and-mortar as opposed to its wholesale and e-commerce channels.**

But don’t take our word for it. Here’s the company’s CRO:

…in 2015 prior management implemented a strategic initiative that was focused on repositioning Diesel stores and products in premium locations and with premium customers so as to place them side-by-side with other premium fashion brands across the retail, online, and wholesale platforms. Unfortunately, since its implementation, the Debtor’s net sales have significantly decreased while its losses have significantly increased.

The market has spoken: Diesel is, according to the market, simply not “premium.”

And by “market” we also mean wholesalers. The company opted to stop distributing its products to wholesale partners “that were deemed not to fit the premium image.” Now, we can only imagine that included discount retailers. Basically, SOME OF THE RETAILERS WHO HAVE PERFORMED THE BEST OVER THE LAST SEVERAL YEARS. But wait: it gets even worse: the wholesale customers the company DID retain pursued voluminous “chargebacks.” Per the company:

As is common in the retail industry, the Debtor provides certain customers with allowances for markdowns, returns, damages, discounts, and cooperative marketing programs (collectively, the “Chargebacks”). If the Debtor’s customers fail to sell the Debtor’s products, they generally have the right to return the goods at cost or issue Chargebacks, which are netted against the Debtor’s accounts receivable. Due to mounting Chargebacks from wholesale customers, the Debtor was forced to significantly reduce its wholesale activities in recent years.

Basically, nobody is buying this sh*t. Not in stores. Not in wholesale.

And, yet, the company holds premium leases:

The primary means of implementing the 2015 strategy was to reposition the Debtor’s full-price retail and outlet stores to “premium”, high-profile, and high-visibility locations, which was executed by opening certain new stores and relocating others to “premium” locations while closing others deemed not to fit the new strategic positioning model. The result was, despite the losses suffered in connection with the Fifth Avenue store, management’s negotiation and entry into several expensive, long-term leases for certain of the Debtor’s retail locations, such as the Debtor’s “Flagship” store on Madison Avenue, which do not expire by their terms until 2024-2026. Of course, it was then (and remains today) an inopportune time to make long-term commitments to costly retail leases and the significantly increased lease expenses have not been offset by increased sales, which, in fact, have dropped precipitously.

…numerous of the Debtor’s stores are producing heavy losses. The Debtor’s unprofitable stores combined to produce negative EBITDA of approximately $10.7 million in 2018, nearly all of which flowed from full-price retail stores. The Debtor’s profitable stores are not enough to off-set the losses, as the 17 fullprice stores combined to produce negative EBITDA of approximately $8.7 million in 2018.

Now, the company does indicate that certain (seemingly outlet) stores remain profitable, as do the wholesale and e-commerce operations.*** So, there’s that. New management is in place and their plan includes (a) using the BK to negotiate with landlords, shutter some locations, shutter and relocate others, opening new smaller stores and refit existing locations; (b) deploying influencer marketing generally and aiming more efforts towards females (and hoping and praying that athleisure — a term we didn’t see ONCE in the entire first day declaration — doesn’t continue to hold sway and steer people away from jeans, generally);**** (c) growing e-commerce; and (d) revitalizing the wholesale business with key selective wholesale partners. This plan is meant to take hold in the next three years and “will require significant capital investments.” (PETITION Note: cue the chapter 22 preparation). The company intends to effectuate its new business plan via a plan of reorganization pursuant to which it will reject certain executory contracts. All in, the company hopes to be confirmed in roughly 5 weeks. Aggressive! But, like Mattress Firm, trade creditors are “current” and there’s no debt otherwise, so the schedule isn’t entirely out of the realm of possibility.

But this is the part that REALLY gets us. If you’ve been reading PETITION long enough — particularly our “We Have a Feasibility Problem” series — you know by now that you ought to be AWFULLY SKEPTICAL of management team’s rosy projections. Per the company:

The Debtor’s projections indicate that the Reorganization Business Plan will return the Debtor to stand-alone profitability by 2021 assuming successful store closures through this Chapter 11 Case, thereby ensuring its ability to continue operating as a going-concern, saving over 300 jobs, and creating new ones through the new store openings.

Generally, we’ll take the under. Though, we have to say: at least they’re not audaciously projecting a miraculous profit in 2019.

How will they achieve all of these lofty goals? The company’s foreign parent will invest $36mm over the three-year period of the business plan because…well…why the hell not? Everyone loves a Hail Mary.


*The company suffered from an ill-advised and poorly-timed real estate spending spree. Between 2008 and 2015, right as brick-and-mortar really started to decline and e-commerce expand, the company expended $90mm on leases. As for Fifth Avenue, per the company, “the Debtor’s store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, which opened in 2008 and closed in 2014, by itself received approximately $18 million in capital expenditures during its tenure while generating substantial losses.

**The company doesn’t appear to have put much into its e-commerce growth. While e-commerce now represents 12% of net sales, sales are only incrementally higher in absolute numbers (from $8mm in 2014 to $12mm in 2018). The wholesale channel, on the other hand, has gone in the opposite direction. Net sales went from $61mm (2014) to $19mm (2018) and now represent only 19% of net sales (down from 32%).

***It seems, though, that outlet stores, wholesale and e-commerce resulted in negative $2mm EBITDA if the math from the above quote is correct. Curious.

****Score for Facebook Inc. ($FB)!


  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware (Judge Walrath)

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Arent Fox LLP (George Angelich, David Mayo, Phillip Khezri) & (local) Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor LLP (Pauline Morgan, Kenneth Enos, Travis Buchanan)

    • Claims Agent: Bankruptcy Management Solutions d/b/a Stretto (*click on the link above for free docket access)

  • Other Parties in Interest:



New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - Imerys Talc America Inc.

Imerys Talc America Inc.

February 13, 2019

Merely a week ago we wrote:

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

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

If only we had purchased a lottery ticket.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The comparisons to PG&E were on point.

  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware (Judge Silverstein)

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

  • Professionals:

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

    • Financial Advisor: Alvarez & Marsal North America LLC

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

  • Other Parties in Interst:

    • Imerys SA

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

    • Future Claims Representative: James L. Patton Jr.

      • Legal: Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor LLP

      • Financial Advisor: Ankura Consulting Group LLC

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

Arsenal Energy Holdings LLC

February 4, 2019

This is the week of proposed super-short bankruptcy cases.

Pennsylvania-based natural-gas developer, Arsenal Energy Holdings LLC, filed a prepackaged bankruptcy case in the District of Delaware. Pursuant to its prepackaged plan of reorganization, the company will convert its subordinated notes to Class A equity. Holders of 95.93% of the notes approved of the plan. The one holdout — the other 4+% — precipitated the need for a chapter 11 filing. Restructuring democracy is a beautiful (and sometimes wasteful) thing.

100% of existing equity approved of the plan and will get Class B equity (with the exception of Arsenal Resource Holdings LLC and FR Mountaineer Keystone Holdings LLC, which will both get Class C equity).

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

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

Given the simplicity of this case, the company hopes to be in and out of bankruptcy in less than two weeks. Which, considering the effort in FULLBEAUTY, begs the question: why is it taking so long?

  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware

  • Capital Structure: $861mm subordinated notes, $116.7mm Seller Notes

  • Company Professionals:

    • Legal: Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP (Michael Torkin, Kathrine McLendon, Nicholas Baker) & (local) Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor LLP (Pauline Morgan, Kara Coyle, Ashley Jacobs)

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

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Ad Hoc Group of Subordinated Noteholders

      • Legal: Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP (Sean O’Neal, Humayan Khalid)

    • Mercuria Investments US, Inc.

      • Legal: Vinson & Elkins LLP (David Meyer, Garrick Smith)

New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - Maremont Corporation

Maremont Corporation

January 22, 2019

Michigan-based Maremont Corporation, a subsidiary of publicly-traded non-debtor automobile component manufacturer Meritor Inc. ($MTOR), has filed for bankruptcy along with three affiliates in the District of Delaware. The company was a manufacturer, distributor and seller of aftermarket auto products — many of which contained asbestos; currently, it has no ongoing operations and its only assets are an intercompany receivable, a rent-producing commercial property with Dollar General as a tenant, a few bank accounts, and some insurance assets. In contrast, the company has significant liabilities — notably asbestos-related liabilities including defense and other costs associated with defending 13k pending personal injury and wrongful death claims.

The company, in consultation with its parent and committees of Future Claimants and current Asbestos Claimants, arrived at a prepackaged plan under section 524(g) of the Bankruptcy Code. The plan envisions a personal injury trust to be funded, in large part, by Meritor (via the repayment of a remaining receivable, a contribution of intercompany payables and a $28mm settlement payment) and a channeling injunction that protects the company (and Meritor) from future suit and liability arising out of the company’s asbestos legacy. Instead, any and all asbestos-related personal injury claims may only be pursued against, and paid from, the personal injury trust.

Meritor, like most of the stock market, got beaten up yesterday. There’s no telling whether the multi-million dollar payout here had anything to do with that.

Source: Yahoo!

Source: Yahoo!


For the uninitiated, this (horrifically boring) bankruptcy filing presents us with a good opportunity to highlight a potential structure (and its limitations) for any imminent Pacific Gas & Electric Company (“PG&E”) chapter 11 bankruptcy filing. PG&E’s issues — as have, by this point, been extensively documented — largely emanate out of (i) some oppressive California state liability laws (inverse-condemnation — definitely), (ii) man-made global warming and resultant mudslides and wildfires (probably), and (iii) at least a glint of negligence (probably). While the company has $18.4b of (mostly unsecured) debt, the catalyst to bankruptcy may be its multi-billion dollar liability from the aforementioned CA-state laws and years of environmental disaster.

Similar to Maremont, PG&E is likely to end up with some kind of plan of reorganization that features a litigation trust (for affected claimants) and a channeling injunction. Except, as John Rapisardi and Daniel Shamah of O’Melveny & Myers point out, there are limitations to that structure. They write:

There is one significant obstacle to any PG&E bankruptcy: the likely inability to discharge liabilities associated with wildfires that have not yet occurred. There have been numerous mass tort bankruptcies in the past that have been resolved through the formation of a litigation trust and channeling injunction, forcing litigants into a single forum where claims are satisfied through trust assets. See, e.g., 11 U.S.C. §524(g) (channeling injunction for asbestos debtors); In re TK Holdings, Doc. No. 2120, Case No. 17-11375 (Bankr D. Del.) (confirmation order with channeling injunction for debtor that manufactured airbags with defective components). But that structure only works for claims based on prior conduct or acts. PG&E, in contrast, faces perennial liability associated with wildfires and inverse condemnation. It may be challenging to discharge the inverse-condemnation liabilities associated with a post-petition wildfire. See 28 U.S.C. §959(a) (debtors-in-possession may be sued “with respect to any of their acts or transactions in carrying on business connected with such property.”).

Prior conduct or acts, huh? A discontinued product that happened to contain asbestos fits that bill. Likewise, a remedied airbag (the TK Holdings referenced above refers to Takata Airbags). Sadly — especially for Californians, there is nothing prior about environmental issues. Those are very much a present and future thing.

  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware (Judge Carey)

  • Company Professionals:

    • Legal: Sidley Austin LLP (James Conlan, Andrew O’Neill, Alison Ross Stromberg, Blair Warner, Alex Rovira) & (local) Cole Schotz PC (Norman Pernick, J. Kate Stickles)

    • Claims Estimation Advisor: Alvarez & Marsal Disputes and Investigations LLC

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

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Future Claimants Representative: James L. Patton Jr.

      • Legal: Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor LLP

      • Claims Estimation Advisor: Ankura Consulting Group LLC

New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - Catalina Marketing Corporation

Catalina Marketing Corporation

12/12/18

On September 16 in “🤖Tech Wants to Axe Lawyers🤖,” we wrote about Crossmark Holdings Inc.Acosta Inc., and Catalina Marketing (a unit of Checkout Holding Corp.) and noted that “[a]ll three are in trouble.” Catalina Marketing was the first domino to fall as it filed for bankruptcy in the District of Delaware.

In connection with our review of the three companies, we previously wrote:

Finally, Catalina Marketing finds itself paying restructuring fees these days too. The St. Petersburg Florida company is owned by Berkshire Partners and Hellman & FriedmanCrescent Capital is also a large equity holder. The company’s capital structure includes approximately:

$29mm April ‘19 L+3.5% Revolving Credit Facility

$1.05b April ‘21 L+3.5% Term Loan (~48.4 bid)

$460mm April ‘22 L+6.75% Second Lien Term Loan (~11.6 bid)

$230mm PIK Toggle unsecured notes

Carry the one, add the two, that’s over $5b of debt across all three companies. Gotta love private equity.

So, yes, yet another private equity-backed company is in bankruptcy court. Here, the company appears to have an agreement with 90% of its first lien lenders (Abry Advanced Securities Fund II and III, Alcentra Limited, Bain Capital Credit LP, Carlyle Investment Management LLC, Invesco Senior Secured Management Inc., and OppenheimerFunds Inc.), and 75% of its second lien lenders, the effect of which is purported to be a $1.6b — yes, $1.6 BILLION — debt reduction. An ad hoc group of first lien lenders has agreed to provide $275mm DIP credit facility (of which $125mm is new money) and committed to provide $40mm in exit financing.

  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware (Judge Gross)

  • Capital Structure: see above.

  • Company Professionals:

    • Legal: Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP (Gary Holtzer, Ronit Berkovich, Jessica Liou, Kevin Bostel, Alexander Condon, Elizabeth Carens, Michael Godbe, Lisa Lansio, Leonard Yoo, Patrick Steel, David Zubkis, Theodore Tsekerides, Peter Isakoff) & (local) Richards Layton & Finger PA (Mark Collins, Jason Madron)

    • Financial Advisor: FTI Consulting Inc. (Robert Del Genio, Thomas Ackerman)

    • Investment Banker: Centerview Partners

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

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • DIP Lenders and the Ad Hoc First Lien Lenders

      • Legal: Jones Day (Scott Greenberg, Michael J. Cohen, David Torborg, Stacey Corr-Irvine, Jeremy Evans, C. Lee Wilson) and (local) Pachulski Stang Ziehl & Jones LLP represent the DIP Lenders and the Ad Hoc First Lien Lenders. 

    • Ad Hoc Group of Second Lien Lenders

      • Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Harrison (Brian Hermann, Robert Britton, Daniel Youngblut, Miriam Levi) and (local) Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor LLP (Pauline Morgan, Andrew Magaziner)

    • Admin Agent of the First Lien Credit Agrement

      • Legal: Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP (Brian Resnick, David Schiff) and Landis Rath & Cobb LLP (Adam Landis, Kerri Mumford)

    • Admin agent under the Second Lien Credit Agreement

      • Legal: Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr (Andrew Goldman, Benjamin Loveland)

    • Ad Hoc Group of the PIK Toggle notes

      • Legal: Debevoise & Plimpton LLP

⛽️New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - Fairway Energy LP⛽️

Fairway Energy LP

November 26, 2018

Belligerent week for companies attached to the oil and gas space (see also Waypoint Leasing). Here, Houston-based Fairway Energy LP, which, interestingly (and somewhat oddly), is 28%-owned by the President and Fellows of Harvard College (🤔), is a storage provider for third-party companies engaged in the production, distribution and marketing of crude oil; it is also now in bankruptcy down in the District of Delaware.

Specifically, the company provides undersurface salt cavern storage, storage that has been utilized since the 40s because of its “extremely low risk of leakage through self-sealing under cavern operating pressures.” The company began construction on its 10-million barrel underground storage facility (the “Facility”) in 2015 (rough timing); yet, it has exclusive rights to store in the facility and has otherwise secured the necessary leases to operate in its geographic location. It is also connected to customers via owned and third-party pipeline systems, which enable to the company to take inbound capacity from the (hot) Permian Basin, the Eagle Ford Shale Basin, and Canada/Midcontinent. The pipelines also connect to hubs that connect to “downstream” infrastructure, i.e., refiners, etc.

To get off the ground, the company had a $390mm equity infusion and $80mm in term loans from Riverstone Credit Partners LP. The company has been operating off of credit agreement amendments now for months, however, given operational and market issues that impeded their use of the Facility and hampered liquidity. Per the company:

For the nine (9) months ended September 30, 2018, Fairway had an operating loss of $38,600,000 (before interest, expense, and other income). Fairway’s financial performance has been negatively affected by (i) reduced and delayed demand for its services, (ii) cost overruns on the Facility, (iii) commercial restrictions on accessing the Facility by existing pipeline connections, and (iv) general market conditions that undermine the demand for crude oil storage.

In other words, a perfect storm posing all sorts of headwinds. These winds, it seems, chilled any potential buyer interest in the Facility: pre-petition efforts to find a buyer, including a stalking horse buyer, proved futile. It seems all of the hopeful and flowery language deployed by the company’s professionals in the First Day Declaration about the usefulness of the Facility isn’t a sentiment shared by any prospective purchasers. Was this whole project a solution in search of a problem? Via the bankruptcy sale process, we’ll soon find out. So, will Riverstone (which is also providing a $20mm DIP credit facility) and the writers of the $390mm of equity checks (read: Harvard).

  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware

  • Capital Structure: $94mm debt     

  • Company Professionals:

    • Legal: Haynes and Boone LLP (Patrick Hughes, Martha Wyrick, Kelsey Zottnick) & (local) Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor LLP (Edmon Morton, Kenneth Enos, Elizabeth Justison)

    • Financial Advisor: Alvarez & Marsal North America LLC (Gary Barton, Kevin Larin)

    • Investment Banker: Piper Jaffray & Co./Simmons & Company International

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

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Administrative Agent under Secured Term Loan Credit Agreement & DIP Lender/Agent: Riverstone Credit Partners LP

      • Legal: White & Case LLP (David Turetsky, Andrew Zatz) & (local) Fox Rothschild LLP (Jeffrey Schlerf)

New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - LBI Media Inc.

LBI Media Inc.

November 21, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving y’all!! LBI Media Inc. and several affiliates FINALLY filed for bankruptcy today in the District of Delaware after years of questions about its financial health. The company is a privately held minority-owned Spanish-language broadcaster that owns or licenses 27 Spanish-language television and radio stations in the largest US markets; it services the largest media markets in the nation, including Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, Miami, Houston and Dallas. It is also a victim of disruption.

The company notes that it has “faced the market pressures that have broadly affected U.S. television and radio broadcasters, including the 2008 recession and the diversion of advertising spend by companies to digital media.” Insert Facebook Inc. ($FB) here. That’s not all, though, of course: the company is also hampered by “a substantial debt load and corresponding interest expense obligations” which has stunted LBI’s financial performance, ability to invest and grow, and liquidity.

To address this situation, the company obtained an investment from its now-DIP lender, HPS Investment Partners, in April 2018 for a new first lien credit facility. This provided the company with much needed liquidity and, in turn, briefly extended the company’s runway out of bankruptcy court. The “make-whole” provision attached to the facility, however, became the subject of much controversy and an ad hoc group of second lien noteholders sued in New York state court for an injunction to hinder the transaction. Ultimately, the state court denied the noteholders.

But…but…the noteholders persisted. And this, apparently, left a bitter taste in the mouth’s of company management (and its counsel). Junior Noteholders, meet bus. 🚌🚌 The company notes:

Following the closing of the transaction, LBI sought to continue its growth efforts. However, such efforts were weakened by the Junior Noteholder Group, which continued to litigate against the Company, its founder and CEO, and HPS, the Company’s sole senior lender. The Junior Noteholder Group commenced multiple lawsuits, and threatened several more, distracting management from operations. These actions and threats not only hindered the Debtors’ efforts to improve their operations, but certain actions, including seeking to enjoin the first lien financing, risked pushing LBI into a precipitous freefall bankruptcy.

When coupled with the Debtors’ tightening liquidity (which was exacerbated by the expense of the Junior Noteholder Group litigation), the Junior Noteholder Group’s actions made it substantially more difficult for LBI to achieve the growth it had hoped for, and the Company determined that a comprehensive reorganization may be necessary.

Thereafter, settlement talks with the Junior Noteholders proved unsuccessful and, now, therefore, the company marches into bankruptcy court with a Restructuring Support Agreement (“RSA”) in hand with HPS whereby, subject to a “fiduciary out,” HPS will serve as (prearranged but hardly set in stone) Plan sponsor and swap its $233mm first lien senior secured notes for a majority equity interest in the company. The Plan — which at the time of this writing isn’t on the docket yet — reportedly provides for recoveries for other “supporting” constituencies. What’s that we hear? IT’S A (DEATH) TRAP!?!

(PETITION NOTE: for the uninitiated, a “death trap plan” is an inartful term for when the Debtor proposes and the senior lenders allows a recovery to trickle down the “priority waterfall” to junior lenders but only on account of said junior lenders’ support of, or vote for, the proposed Plan. In essence, its consideration for dispensing with “holdup value.” A “fiduciary out” gives the Debtor flexibility to, despite the RSA, agree to an alternative transaction that bests the HPS transaction without penalty or the need to pay a “break-up fee.”).

The plan provides the company with 75-day period to run a marketing process. While the company will market the company to potential strategic and financial investors, it is also making overtures to the Junior Noteholders to take out HPS’ claim(s) (without needing to satisfy the make-whole) and become the Plan sponsor such that it could walk away with 100% equity in the company.

All of which is to say: don’t let the terms “RSA” and “Plan” fool you. This is far from a consensual case being presented to the Bankruptcy Court Judge wrapped up in a shiny bow. The Junior Noteholders have been fighting the company and HPS for months: there is no reason to suspect that that will stop now merely because the company is a chapter 11 debtor.

  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware (Judge Lane)

  • Capital Structure: $233mm 10% ‘23 senior secured notes, $262mm 11.5/13.5 ‘20 PIK toggle second priority secured notes, $27.95mm 11% ‘22 PIK unsecured Intermediate senior Holdco notes (TMI Trust Company), $8.46mm 11% ‘17 unsecured Holdco notes (U.S. Bank NA)    

  • Company Professionals:

    • Legal: Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP (Ray Schrock, Garrett Fail, David J. Cohen) & (local) Richards Layton & Finger PA (Daniel DeFranceschi)

    • Board of Directors: Jose Liberman, Lenard Liberman, Winter Horton, Rockard Delgadillo, Peter Connoy, Neal Goldman

    • Financial Advisor: Alvarez & Marsal North America LLC

    • Investment Banker: Guggenheim Securities LLC

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

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Prepetition First Lien & DIP Lender: HPS Investment Partners LLC ($38mm)

      • Legal: Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison LLP (Paul Basta, Jeffrey Safferstein, Sarah Harnett) & (local) Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor LLP (Pauline Morgan, M. Blake Cleary)

    • First Lien Trustee: Wilmington Savings Fund Society FSB

      • Legal: Morrison & Foerster (Jonathan Levine) & (local) Ashby & Geddes PA (William Bowden)

    • Collateral Trustee for First Lien Notes: Credit Suisse AG

      • Legal: Locke Lorde LLP (Juliane Dziobak)

    • Ad Hoc Group of (Junior) Second Lien Noteholders

      • Legal: Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP (Rachel Strickland)

    • Ad Hoc Group of Holdco Noteholders

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

Updated 11/21/18 at 8:27 CT

New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - FR Dixie Holdings Corp.

FR Dixie Holdings Corp.

November 2, 2018

Oilfield services company, Dixie Electric LLC, and its parent, FR Dixie Holdings Corp., have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the District of Delaware with a prepackaged plan of reorganization that eliminates $300mm of funded debt via a debt for equity swap. The privately-held (First Reserve) Houston-based provider of electrical infrastructure materials and services to the energy industry (primarily in the Permian and Bakken basins) has a commitment in hand for $17.5mm of DIP financing to fund the business in BK and $30mm in exit term loans to fund the business upon its emergence from BK.

For the nine months ended September 30, 2018, the unaudited and consolidated financial statements of the Company reflected revenue of $95.0 million and a net loss of $24.5 million. Given approximately $300mm in debt, these numbers presented the company with some serious challenges. The company also blames its bankruptcy filing on “decreased drilling and well completion activity, tightness in the skilled labor market and unprofitable lumpsum contracts.

The company’s bankruptcy papers include a commentary about the state of the post-downturn oil and gas market reflecting, not-so-surprisingly, (i) some discipline by oil and gas drillers and (ii) macro concerns about the labor market. The company notes:

Operators have become increasingly focused on service costs and have pushed for rate cuts and reduced overtime and fixed-priced work. The Company was also increasingly bidding against other firms for work, further putting pressure on margins. As the oil and gas market has recovered, operators have remained focused on costs and, while the Company has been pushing for rate increases, there is still less overtime work and more fixed-price work than existed prior to the downturn. In addition, the Company is experiencing higher labor rates and has not been able to fully offset those labor rate increases with the additional pricing increases.

Accordingly, the company has shut down business lines and stream-lined operations. The hope is that with a near-full deleveraging, it will be better positioned for the future. Given the support of its secured lenders and other parties in interest, the company appears headed in the right direction. The company seeks confirmation of its plan on December 13.

  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware

  • Capital Structure: $19.6mm revolver, $267.4mm TL (Wilmington Trust NA), $8mm unsecured loans    

  • Company Professionals:

    • Legal: Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP (Elisha Graff, Kathrine McLendon, Edward Linden, David Baruch) & (local) Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor LLP (Edmon Morton, Sean Beach, Elizabeth Justison, Tara Pakrouh)

    • Financial Advisor: BDO USA LLP

    • Investment Banker: PJT Partners LP (Peter Laurinaitis, Joseph Fallon)

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

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Ad Hoc Group of Prepetition Secured Lenders

      • Legal: Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP & (local) Morris Nichols Arsht & Tunnell LLP

      • Financial Advisor: Ankura Consulting Group

Updated 11/2 7:45am CT

New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - Egalet Corporation

Egalet Corporation

October 30, 2018

Pennsylvania-based publicly-traded specialty pharma company, Egalet Corporation ($EGLT), filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in the District of Delaware — the latest in a mini-trend of specialty pharma companies to work their way into bankruptcy court (i.e., Orexigen Therapeutics Inc., Bind Therapeutics, Concordia).

The company intends to use the bankruptcy process to effectuate an acquisition of the assets of Iroko Pharmaceuticals Inc., a privately-held specialty pharma company focused on pain management therapies. The company and Iroko will enter into an asset purchase agreement in connection with and as part of a plan of reorganization, and Iroko will obtain 49% of the outstanding stock of the reorganized Egalet and $45mm of new senior secured notes. The acquisition will fortify the reorganized Egalet’s product-candidate lineup which already includes one anti-inflammatory nasal spray and one oral oxycodone formulation. This proposal is also supported by various holders of the company’s debt in the form of a restructuring support agreement.

But why is this company bankrupt in the first place? First, $128.6mm of debt taken on to fund (i) the development of commercial operations relating to the company’s approved products and (ii) R&D costs relating to product candidates. Also:

For the years ended December 31, 2017, 2016 and 2015, the Debtors reported net losses of approximately $69.4 million, $90.6 million and $57.9 million, respectively. These losses were a result of the Debtors’ continued investments in their commercialization capabilities, the Debtors’ research and development activities, the Debtors’ increasing debt service obligations and general difficulties in increasing the revenue generated from the Debtors’ marketed products, including challenges specific to the abuse-deterrent market such as shifting legislative and social responses to the opioid epidemic.

On account of all of this, the company got a Nasdaq delisting which triggered a “fundamental change” under the company’s converts which required the company to buy back its converts. Of course, the company didn’t have the ability to do so under its credit docs. Ruh roh. Enter restructuring professionals here.

The reorganized debtors will continue to operate under the Egalet name and will be positioned, post-acquisition, to market six commercial products. The company intends to use cash collateral to finance the cases and be out of bankruptcy within 95 days.

Among the companies largest shareholders are Highbridge Capital Management LLC, Broadfin Capital LLC, Deerfield Management Company LP, and Franklin Advisors Inc.

  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware

  • Capital Structure: $128.6mm debt (see below)

  • Company Professionals:

    • Legal: Dechert LLP (Michael Sage, Brian Greer, Stephen Wolpert, Alaina Heine) & (local) Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor LLP (Robert Brady, Sean Greecher)

    • Financial Advisor: Berkeley Research Group LLC

    • Investment Banker: Piper Jaffray & Co.

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

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Ad Hoc Secured Noteholder Committee

      • Legal: Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison LLP (Andrew Rosenberg, Jacob Adlerstein, Adam Denhoff, Michael Turkel, Miriam Levi) & (local) Cozen O’Connor (Mark Felger, Simon Fraser)

    • Ad hoc committee of holders of the 5.50% Convertible Notes due 2020 and 6.50% Convertible Notes due 2024

      • Legal: Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP (Michael Byun, Erik Preis, Stephen Kuhn, Erica McGrady) & (local) Ashby & Geddes PA (Karen Skomorucha Owens)

    • Iroko Pharmaceuticals LLC

      • Legal: Baker & McKenzie LLP (Debra Dandeneau, Frank Grese III) & (local) Whiteford Taylor & Preston LLC (L. Katherine Good, Aaron Stulman)

Source: First Day Declaration

Source: First Day Declaration

New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - Welded Construction L.P.

Welded Construction L.P.

October 22, 2018

Amidst concerns of nationwide pipeline shortages and, strangely, corresponding fears over too much pipeline capacity, it seems even more strange that a pipeline construction company would file for bankruptcy. Alas, on Monday, Welded Construction L.P., a Perrysburg Ohio-based pipeline construction contractor filed for bankruptcy in the district of Delaware despite slightly more than $1b in consolidated gross revenue in the twelve months ended 9/30/18.

We have to hand the company and its professionals some credit: they appear to be paying attention to what PETITION has been saying about the need for more efficiency in the restructuring profession as this case features one of the shortest First Day Declarations we’ve seen in recent memory. They cut right to it. No surplus. Which seems only right: surplus is definitely not something a pipeline construction contractor wants.

Sadly, that is apparently what it appears to have. Just not surplus liquidity, unfortunately. Rather they are alleged by some of their clients to have a surplus of cost overruns. And by alleged we don’t mean threatening emails or letters. We mean litigation. And then litigation has cooled the market for Welded and fed into liquidity issues.

The company is currently working on five pipeline construction projects for its various customers, a list that includes the likes of Sunoco (as affiliates of Energy Transfer Partners LP or “ETP”), Consumers Energy Company, and Williams Companies. The latter, upon completion of Welded’s construction work, is alleged to have withheld $23.5mm from a payment owed to the company and filed a lawsuit against the company alleging breach of contract. According to the company, this “created acute liquidity issues for the Debtors and concerns in the market about their viability as a going concern.” When there is a ton of pipeline construction business to be won, this timing couldn’t possibly be any worse.

Compounding matters is the fact that the company has sizable potential surety bond obligations to its insurers. The insurers, in turn, were granted security interests in the company’s assets but…uh…maybe didn’t perfect them? Whoops. Popping popcorn for this inevitable fight. There is no secured debt here other than some potential equipment financing.

Bored yet? Yeah, us too. But there is a lesson here about managing litigation risk. The lawsuit by Williams spooked other potential customers and enhanced the company’s already pressing liquidity concerns. The company states:

The Debtors vigorously dispute the allegations contained in the Williams Complaint. Since the filing of the Williams Complaint, the Debtors have engaged in dialogue with Williams and its other Customers in an attempt to consensually resolve the dispute and avert the need for the filing of these chapter 11 cases. However, the filing of the Williams Complaint was quickly made public to the market and Customers became increasingly concerned about how the payment of receivables would be utilized by the Debtors. In particular, Customers sought assurance that any new payables would be solely deployed toward expenses related to their particular Projects. As such, these discussions were unsuccessful, depriving the Debtors of the necessary liquidity to sustain their business operations outside of chapter 11 and absent negotiated arrangements with their Customers….

Subsequently, and just a few days ago, ETP sent a letter to the company purporting to terminate the company’s engagement on the ETP project. Crikey! The dominoes are falling.

That last bit of the above quote is key here. Armed with a $20mm DIP credit facility, the company intends to use the “breathing spell” afforded by the chapter 11 automatic stay to:

…negotiate arrangements to finalize the Debtors’ ongoing Projects with [customers], all with the overarching goal of maximizing the value of the Debtors’ estates for the benefit of the Debtors’ creditors and other stakeholders.

Sounds like the next few weeks are going to be riddled with intense negotiations. Sure sounds like the company’s survival depends upon it.

  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware (Judge Gross)

  • Capital Structure: No secured debt. $240mm of accrued liabilities.

  • Company Professionals:

    • Legal: Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor LLP (M. Blake Cleary, Sean Beach, Justin Rucki, Tara Pakrouh, Betsy Feldman)

    • Financial Advisor: Zolfo Cooper LLC (Frank Pometti)

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

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • North American Pipeline Equipment Company, LLC, Bechtel Oil, Gas & Chemicals, Inc., and Ohio Welded Company LLC

      • Legal: Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP (Michael Rosenthal, Matthew Kelsey, J. Eric Wise, Daniel Denny, Jason Friedman) & (local) Ashby & Geddes PA (William Bowden, Karen Skomorucha Owens, Katharina Earle)

    • Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Company

      • Legal: Chiesa Shahinian & Giantomasi PC (Scott Zuber, Jonathan Bondy) & (local) Burr & Forman LLP (Richard Robinson, J. Cory Falgowski)

✈️New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - ONE Aviation Corporation✈️

ONE Aviation Corporation

10/9/18

ONE Aviation Corporation, a New Mexico-based OEM of twin-engine light jet aircraft (e.g., the Eclipse jet, a twin-turbofan very light jet or “VLJ”), filed a prepackaged bankruptcy case that will give 97-100% of the equity to its senior prepetition lender, Citiking International US LLC. Holders of senior secured notes will get 3% of the equity and warrants if they check the “yes” vote in the “death trap” plan of reorganization. General unsecured claimants will get a big fat zero and a bunch of court-mandated paper to throw into the recycling bin. Citiking is providing the company with a $17mm DIP credit facility that will roll into an exit facility upon emergence from chapter 11.

The company has $198.8mm of total funded debt, including approximately $53.2mm representing amounts owed to certain state and local governments in the form of development loans. Womp womp.

Why is there a bankruptcy here? The company pursued growth strategies that simply never came to fruition, including targeting the “air taxi” industry and development of new capital-intensive airplane models. The company notes:

That strategy ultimately proved unsuccessful in the near term because, in addition to the negative macro-factors, including the condition of the U.S. and global economies, ONE Aviation was unable to raise the capital needed to complete the new airplane programs. The VLJ market, a market dependent on luxury spending, simply had not recovered from its downturn in 2008.

Liquidity, therefore, became constrained as the company found itself caught between building for the future and sustaining today. After a considerable sales and marketing process conducted by multiple bankers (Guggenheim Securities, first, Duff & Phelps, second) both in the U.S. and internationally, the company had no luck finding strategic or financial buyers. Hence bankruptcy with a plan to convey the company over to the prepetition first lien lender.

  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware (Judge Sontchi)

  • Capital Structure: $58.6mm first lien RCF (Citiking), $43.3mm subordinated secured notes (Bank of New York Mellon Trust Company, N.A.), $20.5mm subordinated unsecured notes

  • Company Professionals:

    • Legal: Paul Hastings LLP (Chris Dickerson, Brendan Gage, Nathan Gimpel, Todd Schwartz, Stephen Bandrowsky) & (local) Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor LLP (Robert Brady, M. Blake Cleary, Sean Beach, Jaime Lutan Chapman)

    • Financial Advisor: Ernst & Young LLP (Briana Richards, Brian Yano)

    • Investment Banker: Duff & Phelps Securities LLC (Vineet Batra)

    • Board of Directors: Michael Wyse, Jonathan Dwight, Alan Klapmeier, Kevin Gould, RJ Siegel

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

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Administrative Agent & Collateral Agent: Cantor Fitzgerald Securities

      • Legal: Richards Kibbe & Orbe LLP (Gregory Plotko, Christopher Jarvinen) & (local) Ashby & Geddes PA (Gregory Taylor, Stacy Newman)

    • Senior Prepetition Lender: Citiking International US LLC

      • Legal: Emmet Marvin & Martin LLP (Thomas Pitta) & (local) Ashby & Geddes PA (Gregory Taylor, Stacy Newman)

    • Senior Subordinated Secured Noteholders

      • Legal: Manning Gross + Massenburg LLP (Marc Phillips)

Updated 10/9/18 at 5:12pm CT

🛌New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - Mattress Firm Inc.🛌

Mattress Firm Inc.

10/05/18

Recap: See our recap here.

  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware (Judge Sontchi)

  • Capital Structure: See below.

  • Company Professionals:

    • Legal: Sidley Austin LLP (Bojan Guzina, Michael Fishel, Gabriel MacConaill, Matthew Linder, Blair Warner) & (local) Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor LLP (Edmon Morton)

    • Financial Advisor: AlixPartners LLP

    • Investment Banker: Guggenheim Securities LLC (Durc Savini)

    • Liquidator: Gordon Brothers Group LLC

      • Legal: Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP (Steven Reisman, Cindi Giglio) & (local) Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP (Mark Minuti, Lucian Murley)

    • Real Estate Advisors: A&G Realty Partners

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

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Barclays Bank PLC

      • Legal: Paul Hastings LLP (Andrew Tenzer, Michael Comerford) & (local) Richards Layton & Finger PA (Mark Collins, Jason Madron)

    • Citizens Bank NA

      • Legal: Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP (Julia Frost-Davies, Marc Leduc, Laura McCarthy) & (local) Richards Layton & Finger PA (Mark Collins, Jason Madron)

    • Steinhoff International Holdings N.V

      • Legal: Linklaters LLP (Robert Trust, Christopher Hunker, Amy Edgy) & (local) Morris Nichols Arsht & Tunnell LLP (Derek Abbott, Andrew Remming, Joseph C. Barsalona II)

    • Exit term loan financing backstop group (the “Backstop Group”): Attestor Capital LLP, Baupost Group, Centerbridge Partners LP, DK Capital Management Partners, Farrallon Capital Management L.L.C., KKR & Co. Partners LLP, Monarch Alternative Capital LP, Och-Ziff Capital Management, Silverpoint Capital

      • Legal: Latham & Watkins LLP (Mitchell Seider, Adam Goldberg, Hugh Keenan Murtagh, Marc Zelina, Adam Kassner) & (local) Ashby & Geddes PA (William Bowden, Karen Skomorucha Owens, F. Troupe Mickler IV)

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🚗New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - ATD Corporation🚗

ATD Corporation

10/4/18

Recap: Please see here.

  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware (Judge Carey)

  • Capital Structure: See below.

  • Company Professionals:

    • Legal: Kirkland & Ellis LLP (James Sprayragen, Anup Sathy, Chad Husnick, Spencer Winters, Joshua Greenblatt, Jacob Johnston, Mark McKane, Jaimie Fedell, Andre Guiulfo) & (local) Pachulski Stang Ziehl & Jones LLP (Laura Jones, Timothy Cairns, Joseph Mulvihill)

    • Financial Advisor: AlixPartners LLP (James Mesterharm)

    • Investment Banker: Moelis & Co. (Adam Keil)

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

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Term Lender Committee

      • Legal: Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison LLP (Brian Hermann, Aidan Synnott, Jacob Adlerstein, Michael Turkel, David Giller, Oksana Lashko, Eugene Park, Jacqueline Rubin) & (local) Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor LLP (Pauline Morgan, Joel Waite, Andrew Magaziner)

      • Financial Advisor: Houlihan Lokey

    • DIP Agent and Pre-Petition ABL Agent (Bank of America)

      • Legal: Parker Hudson Rainer & Dobbs LLP (C. Edward Dobbs, Eric W. Anderson, James S. Rankin Jr., Jack C. Basham) & (local) Richards Layton & Finger PA (John Knight, Amanda Steele, Brendan Schlauch)

    • DIP FILO Lenders & Consenting Noteholders

      • Legal: Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP (Ira Dizengoff, Philip Dublin, Naomi Moss) & (local) Pepper Hamilton LLP (Evelyn Meltzer, Kenneth Listwak)

      • Financial Advisor: PJT Partners

    • Indenture Trustee: Ankura Trust Company LLC

      • Legal: King & Spalding LLP (Jeffrey Pawlitz, David Zubricki, Jared Zajec) & (local) Chipman Brown Cicero & Cole, LLP (William E. Chipman, Jr., Mark D. Olivere)

    • Michelin North America Inc.

      • Legal: Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP (George B. Cauthen, Jody A. Bedenbaugh, Shane Ramsey) & (local) Bayard PA (Justin Alberto, Evan Miller)

    • Cooper Tire & Rubber Company

      • Legal: Jones Day (Timothy Hoffmann) & (local) Potter Anderson & Corroon LLP (Jeremy Ryan, D. Ryan Slaugh)

    • Sponsor: Ares Management

      • Legal: Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy LLP (Paul Aronzon, Thomas Kreller, Adam Moses)

    • Sponsor: TPG Capital

      • Legal: Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP (Ryan Dahl, Natasha Hwangpo)

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New Chapter 11 Filing - Duro Dyne National Corp.

9/7/18

Duro Dyne National Corp., a manufacturer of sheet metal accessories and equipment for the heating, ventilating and air conditioning industry has filed for bankruptcy in the District of New Jersey. It constitutes one of those rare instances where an otherwise healthy business requires bankruptcy protection to ward off potential liability. 

The company reported steadily increasing sales and profits as steel prices fell to historic lows and construction activity continued to rebound from the recession. In 2017, the company had $69mm in sales and $5.2mm in EBITDA. In 2018, steel prices have increased -- in part due to tariffs -- and so the Company also raised prices. It expects $73.6mm of sales and $5.2mm of EBITDA. So what's the issue here? 

Per the company:

Beginning in the mid to late 1980s, the Company was sued on account of Asbestos Personal Injury Claims in various jurisdictions alleging liability for bodily injury allegedly sustained as a result of exposure to products containing asbestos allegedly manufactured and/or distributed by the Company from the 1950s through the 1970s.

Consequently, due to the increasing costs of defending and resolving the asbestos personal injury claims and the decline of insurance proceeds covering them, the company filed for bankruptcy to establish a plan that institutes a "channeling" injunction that directs all present and future asbestos-related demands to a funded trust for handling and payment. 

  • Jurisdiction: D. of New Jersey (Judge Kaplan)
  • Capital Structure: $1.29mm funded secured debt     
  • Company Professionals:
    • Legal: Lowenstein Sandler LLP (Kenneth Rosen, Jeffrey Prol)
    • Financial Advisor: Getzler Henrich & Associates LLC
    • Claims Agent: BMC Group Inc. (*click on company name above for free docket access)
  • Other Parties in Interest:
    • Exit Lender: Bank of America NA
    • Ad Hoc Asbestos Claimants Committee
      • Legal: Caplin & Drysdale Chartered (James Wehner, Jeffrey Liesemer)
    • Prepetition Future Claimants Representative
      • Legal: Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor LLP (Edwin Harron, Sara Beth Kohut)

New Chapter 11 Filing - Open Road Films LLC

Open Road Films LLC

9/6/18

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

The company notes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

🌮New Chapter 11 Filing - RM Holdco LLC (Real Mex)🌮

In April's piece entitled "🍟Casual Dining is a Hot Mess🍟" and then in a follow-up in July creatively and originally entitled "🍟Casual Dining Continues to = a Hot Mess🍟" we noted that...well...casual dining is a hot mess. As of today…A. Spicy. Hot. Mess. Actually.

Late last night, RM Holdco LLC, the owner of a portfolio of 69 company-operated and 11 franchised restaurants and contemporary taquerías including Chevy's Fresh Mex, Siniqual, El Torito Grill, Las Brisas and Alcapulco filed for bankruptcy to effectuate a "363 sale" of substantially all of its assets to an affiliate of one of its pre-petition equityholders, Z Capital Partners LLC for $46.75mm. Interestingly, this filing also marks the third — that’s right, THIRD — chapter 22 filing in the last week following Home Heritage Group Inc. and Brookstone Inc. This is how we previously described a “Chapter 22”:

For the uninitiated, Chapter 22 in bankruptcy doesn’t actually exist. It is a somewhat snarky term to describe companies that have round-tripped back into chapter 11 after a previous stint in bankruptcy court.

Real Mex previously filed for bankruptcy in October 2011 and sold to Z Capital and Tennenbaum Capital Partners LLC in March 2012. At the time of that previous chapter 11 filing, the company operated approximately 128 restaurants.

This time, the signs of an imminent bankruptcy filing were out there shining for all to see as the company has been sending smoke signals for months. Back in May, Bloombergreported that the company hired Piper Jaffray to pursue a sale — including one that could be consummated in bankruptcy. Thereafter, in June, the company filed a WARN Notice with the Department of Labor indicating that it intends to close its Times Square location and lay off 134 employees. Perhaps the signs were in place even earlier when the company hired the former CFO of Wet Seal, a retailer that, itself, found its way into bankruptcy court twice.

The company highlights various macro factors as reasons for this chapter 11 filing:

For the past six (6) years, the Debtors have struggled with certain industry-wide and company-specific pressures that have negatively impacted their operations. Trends in the greater restaurant industry, including increases to minimum wage and commodity costs, have created substantial pressure on the entire sector, as evidenced by the numerous brands that have filed for bankruptcy in recent years, including Ignite Restaurant Group (Brick House and Joe’s Crab Shack), Macaroni Grill, Garden Fresh, Bertucci’s, Crumbs, Cosi, and Buffets.

And:

In addition, increased competition, especially in the form of available, quality Mexican fast casual options, has had a significant impact on traffic in the Debtors’ restaurants.

For anyone keeping track of the “What Caused Bankruptcy” standings, this would be Amazon Inc. ($AMZN) 282,499,209 and (now) Chipotle Inc. ($CMG) 1.

Compounding matters here is (i) the company’s $200+ million in debt, (ii) an expensive workers’ compensation program, (iii) long-term lease burden (it leases all of its locations, the majority if which are in California), (iv) an expensive-yet-unconsummated-growth-strategy (the company attempted but failed to pursue expensive M&A processes with bankrupted Garden Fresh Restaurant Intermediate Holdings, among others), and (v) poor risk management procedures. On the latter point, it seems the company was a wee bit cavalier about not-at-all-serious matters like alcohol awareness, sexual harassment and food handling safety; therefore, it “experienced higher-than-normal litigation and enforcement-related expenses.” Yikes.

Now, back in October 2016 — in the context of Garden Fresh’s chapter 11 filing — we asked “Are Progressives Bankrupting Restaurants?” Therein we highlighted the following:

…Morberg's explanation for the bankruptcy went a step farther. He noted that cash flow pressures also came from increased workers' compensation costs, annual rent increases, minimum wage increases in the markets they serve, and higher health benefit costs -- a damning assessment of popular progressive initiatives making the rounds this campaign season. And certainly not a minor statement to make in a sworn declaration.  

It's unlikely that this is the last restaurant bankruptcy in the near term. Will the next one also delineate progressive policies as a root cause? It seems likely.

Points for PETITION’s bullseye?

Notably, here, the company also underscores that employee costs were a significant contributor to its liquidity constraints. It states:

While struggling with the specific issues discussed above, the Debtors have also suffered from rising employee wage costs, which are particularly high in California, where the vast majority of the Debtors’ restaurants are located. In an attempt to minimize these costs, the Debtors have implemented a scheduling program that has reduced employee hours and has optimized both front-of-house and back-of-house staffing.

Welcome to the party, Mr. Unintended Consequences.

The company seeks to use the bankruptcy process to effectuate the afore-mentioned sale to Z Capital. While the purchase price is a mere fraction of the debt on balance sheet, Z Capital’s proposed stalking horse asset purchase agreement also provides that it will “offer employment to all Company employees at purchased restaurants who are employed at the closing, and may offer employment to other Company employees as well.” In other words, this may be one of those instances where the funds lose on their investments but the (remaining) employees come out relatively okay. Z Capital and Tennenbaum are also providing the company with a $5.5mm DIP credit facility to finance operations during course of the cases.

  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware (Judge [ ])

  • Capital Structure: $41.7mm first lien credit facility (Wells Fargo Bank NA), $195.1mm second lien credit facility (Wells Fargo Bank NA), $17.53mm in secured reimbursement obligation loans (from Letters of Credit), $53.62mm unsecured subordinated convertible debt (Z Capital = large holder)    

  • Company Professionals:

    • Legal: Sidley Austin LLP (Vijay Sekhon, Christina Craige, Ariella Thal Simonds) & (local) Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor LLP (Robert Brady, Elizabeth Justison, Andrew Magaziner, Edmon Morton, Michael Nestor)

    • Financial Advisor: Alvarez & Marsal LLC (Jonathan Tibus)

    • Investment Banker: Piper Jaffray & Co. (Jean Hosty, Terri Stratton, Michael Sutter) 

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

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Stalking Horse Bidder & DIP Lender: Z Capital Group LLC (Legal: Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP & (local) Morris Nichols Arsht & Tunnell LLP)

    • DIP Lender: Tennenbaum Capital Partners (Legal: Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP & (local) Landis Rath & Cobb LLP)

    • DIP Agent: Wells Fargo Bank NA (Thompson & Hine LLP)