Interesting News (Weed, Quora, Dead Malls & More)

Bankruptcy Code Section 4:20. Just kidding...the bankruptcy code isn't available for folks who make money off of weed. 

Busted takes a stray bullet in this piece about IAC's plans to shut down The fact that has actually still been running this whole time renders us - yes, even us - speechless. Meanwhile, more busted tech is coming...soon. On the flip side, Quora is now a unicorn so who the hell really knows?

Canada. Housing is looking like an oncoming disaster - particularly in Toronto - and blood is appearing in the water.

Casual Dining. Quietly, a NYC mainstay is disappearing

Dead Malls/Investing. David Simon's optimism notwithstanding (see above), everyone is all over the "short the malls" thesis - now even extending it to the "A Malls" that, prior to recently, were generally considered to be impervious to this retail malaise (note: there's over $1b of short interest on SPG currently). And this guy from Alder Hill Management LP is the poster child. (Let us know if you want his report: PETITION has it.) Some are throwing shade all over this hype. Finally, according to this, maybe we should all be doing a better job to ensure that algorithmic shopping doesn't gain more ground and malls actually DO survive.

Oil & Gas. Nothing like a good old corruption allegation that embroils multiple law firms and a private equity shop to help push a company (here, Cobalt International Energy) closer to bankruptcy (paywall).

Oil & Gas II. Wait. So now we're at an oil and gas deficit?!

Retail II (Jamming like a Boss). While Gibson Brands was able to refinance its debt and push out issues, Guitar Center is looking increasingly troubled. Given that the company is private equity-owned, undoubtedly there is an over-leverage story here (like with all other PE-owned retail), but we wonder whether the show-room trend is particularly applicable to this kind of business. We asked our artsy friends and one of them openly admitted to strapping in at the local GC and then purchasing on Amazon. The pricing was the same and he didn't have to worry about lugging it home. We find the in-store lessons narrative dubious as well. There are countless online resources for learning guitar - YouTube, most notably. Meanwhile, we enjoyed this decidedly millennial take on the death of retail

Retail (Canadian Lumber Edition). Kidding, more like Canadian cashmere. Washable cashmere company Kit and Ace is restructuring in an additional acknowledgement that brick-and-mortar retail is tough - even if you're a VERY proven founder of successful apparel companies (in this case, Lululemon). Choice quote within: "Really it was just another store." Something tells us "Just another store" won't be part of the restructured company's marketing strategy.

SolarSunEdisonSungevitySunivaVerengoSolarCity. Okay, just kidding about the last one but who knows what would've happened sans Elon Musk's Tesla/Solarcity merger shenanigans. Now Heliopower. We know many of you know the solar story: too much subsidy, too much debt, flooded supply from China pressuring margins, yadda yadda yadda. But we wonder if any of you have a notion with respect to a potential successful business model. We're serious: we're crowdsourcing your view here...

TaxisCalling for a bailout.

The Profit. That's what Marcus Lemonis calls his CNBC show and now we'll get to see whether he can make some with the Camping World-led purchase of select portions of the Gander Mountain business in bankruptcy.

Fast Forward (Beauty). Uh oh. We noted last week that beauty category has been largely e-commerce resistant. Well, maybe not.

Rewind I (Bueller, Bueller). Get on with it already. Takata has become the new Westinghouse. Lots of noise. Just a matter of when. And, shocker! iHeartMedia's proposed subscription service with Napster - YES, NAPSTER - hasn't helped generate enough revenue to counteract $20b of debt.

Rewind II (Literally): We are as guilty as anyone hyping up the potential of autonomous cars but if anything is indicative of the wholesale difficulty to achieve 100% adoption, it's this piece about surviving Blockbuster franchises. Suffice it to say, there won't be driverless cars rocking the streets of Alaska anytime soon.

Rewind III (Shipping): We all know that the shipping industry hasn't been immune to its fair share of troubles the past year or so. Notably, HanjinToisaDaewooEzra, and International Shipholding have all seen themselves in bankruptcy court. And, of course, Algeco Scotsman restructured as did Modular Space Corporation, as container companies, naturally, have also felt the effects. So, we thought this use case for surplus modular containers was interesting and we're dying for one of our readers in, say, Texas, to get one of these and report back.

Rewind IV (Apologies...More on the Retail Apocalypse): Last week we highlighted Jeff Jordan's early 2014 call on retail. Subsequently, he dove into the mall scene: you can read it here. The below excerpt should be particularly interesting to PETITION readers as we've been saying for some time that restructuring pros who continue to claim that Bonobos and Warby Parker will fill the retail void are, quite plainly, making a$$es out of themselves. As are, quite notably, REIT CEOs. Nothing has changed since JJ wrote this...

News for the Week of 2/12/17

  • Coal. Prices have risen and Trump is promising assistance. Is this enough to offset sagging demand? China's new measures aren't helping. But the capital markets are, as Peabody EnergyArch Coal, and Contura Energy are all taking advantage of cheap financing/refinancing options. Peabody shopped an upsized term loan (by $450mm) with revised company-favorable pricing; it also issued new notes and bonds. Amazing how quickly things changed with coal.
  • Chicago. S&P is making threats. 
  • Electric Vehicles. Something tells us that oil and gas management teams and their wildly astute restructuring bankers and advisors neglected to bake this element into their business plans. 
  • European DebtIncreasing concerns about Italy and Greece. Meanwhile, in France, CVC Capital Partners' owned vehicle leasing firm Fraikin has hired Rothschild to restructure its 1.4 billion Euro debt. Lazard will represent the mezz debt.
  • Moelis & Co. & Aramco"Ken of Arabia"? C'mon, that's just dumb.
  • Power. California has more power plants than it needs. After a slate of power-related bankruptcies, it looks like there is more hurt to come in this space. And big developments on the storage side probably won't help. And this new cooling tech won't help either - if it's legit.
  • Retail. And people wonder why private equity is and point: Rackspace. Speaking of private equity, Canada Goose's proposed IPO reeks of a dump-and-run on greater fools. Millennials don't spend money, but Bain Capital will have us believe that $900 fur-lined jackets are the exception to the rule. Riiiight. 
  • Retail Part IIOrganized Retail Crime = massive problem. 
  • Retail Part IIIGander Mountain = toast.
  • Retail Part IVAmazon announced that the number of third-party sellers on its B2B site has reached 45k, up about 50% from the approx 30k sellers it had at the end of Q2...IN JUNE.
  • Return of the Maturity Wall. Nothing gets restructuring professionals' juices flowing like sexy maturity stats. So, here it is: $2 trillion of corporate debt comes due in five years. And this is, in part, because the capital markets are definitely wide open right now in the face of soon-to-be rising interest rates. Take THAT wall, President Trump! 
  • Sears. Everyone is looking at this oncoming trainwreck and wondering "when?", not "if." Nice recent CDS movements on it but then the company unearthed a remarkable $1b in cost savings. Like, out of nowhere. And, naturally, the stock soared 25+%.
  • Spotify. Typically there are tremors before the earthquake. Perhaps Filip TechnologiesViolin Memory, and Nasty Gal are the tremors foreshadowing a venture debt-backed reckoning on the horizon. It's unclear. But, in Spotify's case, the interest ratchets attached to $1b of debt get more and more expensive with each consecutive quarter sans IPO. A big "unicorn" is going to fail and fail big. Spotify may not be the one, but it ain't looking great. But that one IS coming (Zenefits anyone?). Along these lines, how the eff is Theranos not bankrupt yet
  • Takata. Inching towards bankruptcy.
  • Fast Forward: Most retail-focused restructuring pros emphasize "omni-channel," the latest retail buzzword that, practically speaking, means basically nothing in today's climate. Case and point: Neiman Marcus, which was downgraded this week with projected 10x leverage on $4.77b of debt. Most of the cap stack traded at new lows this week. Omni-channel ain't a panacea, it appears.
  • Rewind IThis result for Relativity Media sure sounds positive.
  • Rewind II: The grocery space is getting hammered so badly that now even Whole Foods is retrenching, shutting more stores than it's opening go-forward.
  • Chart of the Week
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News for the Week of 01/22/17

  • Distressed Investing. A short discussion of opportunities in post-reorg equities.
  • Fraud. With lofty valuations and lofty P/E ratios come lofty expectations. And fraud. Here's hoping this is confined only to tech
  • Hospitals. They're going away.
  • Malls. Simon Properties and General Growth Properties take a hit from The Limited Brands bankruptcy, which is only valuable on an IP basis. But don't worry: pop-up stores and pickup centers will ease the pain. Wait, what?
  • Mexico. Pemex is selling a baseball field to sure up liquidity. Yes, you read that right.
  • Retail & Retail AnalyticsSome analytics around retail. Meanwhile, in the face of talk about renewed IPO activity in '17, Claire's Stores unsurprisingly abandoned its IPO, further calling into question Apollo's $3b take-private transaction. And then there's BCBG trainwreck. But hope is not lost for physical retail: a number of e-commerce retailers are increasing their physical presence, including Bonobos, Rent the Runway and others.
  • Rewind I: More on the Dallas pension fiasco.
  • Rewind II: New developments with Takata pummel the stock.
  • Chart of the Week

What the Pros Say (Week of 01/08/17)

  • Death Traps. Katharina Earle of Cole Schotz PC discusses the risks of proposing death traps in a plan.
  • Energy. The US Energy Information Administration has released its annual energy outlook with forecasts through 2050.
  • Lease Rejections. Kenneth Rosen of Lowenstein Sandler LLP articulates that BC 365(d)(4) is causing retail liquidations.
  • Makewhole. Gregory Horowitz of Kramer Levin reviews the EFIH decision.
  • Privacy. Shmuel Vasser of Dechert LLP discusses internet privacy issues in the context of international bankruptcies.
  • Professional Fees. Michael Cook of Schulte Roth & Zabel summarizes the recent In re Relativity Fashion LLC case relating to objections to investment banking transaction fees. In this instance, attempts to revisit 328-approved fees failed. For some inexplicable reason, Cook doesn't indicate whose applications were at risk - to the point of blatantly avoiding it even though the court makes no attempt to hide it. To spare you the suspense, it was Houlihan Lokey and PJT Partners LP that were attacked. 
  • Takata. Brendan Best of Varnum LLP writes about the implications of a Takata bankruptcy for trade creditors.

News for the Week of 12/18/16

  • Distressed Debt. More focus lately on Africa and the Middle East. Meanwhile, New Jersey is issuing transportation debt directly to state pension funds, cutting out middlemen in the issuance and driving down issuance costs. 
  • Hertz. Despite Carl Icahn's best efforts, this company has shown nothing but decline in the face of Uber and Lyft stealing revenue from the consumer-facing rental car business.
  • Renewable Energy. Wind and natural gas are on the rise in the United States: there's no holding it back. Interestingly, Statoil announced this week that it - like many others - is abandoning the Canadian oil sands to the tune of a $500mm impairment; meanwhile, Statoil paid $42.4mm for a lease to develop a wind farm 79k acres southeast of New York City. There were 33 rounds of bidding: the longest auction the agency has ever had for offshore wind. Earlier this week the wind farm offshore of Rhode Island went on-line.
  • Shenanigans. JCrew transferred its IP to a Cayman subsidiary triggering significant downward trending term loan activity; IHeartMedia elected not to pay $57mm of senior notes due to an affiliate upon maturity which may or may not be a CDS credit event; Cumulus Media launched a lawsuit against JPMorgan for allegedly unreasonably withholding consent to a proposed refinancing transaction that would significantly delever its balance sheet. 
  • Takata. The airbag recall keeps spreading - now to McLaren, Ferrari and Tesla. Chances are the company is looking on at the General Motors situation with great interest.
  • Twinkies. An interesting summary of the company's history - including stints in bankruptcy.
  • Fast Forward: Forbes Energy Services' fifth forbearance expires on 12/23, Stone Energy's equity committee hearing is 12/21, and CHC Group Limited may get its PSA ruling from Judge Houser this week.
  • Rewind I: Neiman Marcus reported dog-sh*t numbers this past week blaming a strong US dollar and general retail headwinds for a widened $23.5mm loss. Headwinds persist for retailers: here are top trends affecting retail go-forward.
  • Rewind II: For-Profit Education. The US FTC announced a $100mm settlement with DeVry University, capping a BRUTAL two years for for-profit education. Some highlights: ITT Technical Institute already shut down earlier in the year, the infamous Trump University recently settled a suit for $25mm, and last year Education Management Corporation paid a $95.5mm settlement and Corinthian Colleges filed for bankruptcy.
  • Rewind III: We discussed Amazon Go last week. Here are some more takes on the technology.
  • Chart of the Week

Tweet of the Week

News for the Week of 11/13/16

  • Fast Forward: Bonanza Creek, Forbes Energy and Nuverra Environmental all face expirations of grace/forbearance periods this week. 
  • Fast Forward II: Dynergy and Illinois Power Generating Co. (Genco) launched an exchange offer for Genco with a prepackaged bankruptcy backstop; FirstEnergy bonds plummeted after acknowledging bankruptcy as an option for subsidiary, FirstEnergy Solutions.
  • Rewind I: Saudi Arabia. Feeling the pain.
  • Rewind II: Oklahoma. Two weeks ago we highlighted the effects of the oil and gas downturn on the educational system in Oklahoma. We acknowledged the environmental issues there too. Well, that story keeps evolving as a 5.0 earthquake roiled through Oklahoma this past week.  And this chart is interesting:
  • Chart of the Week: US field production of crude oil increased in 2015 for the 7th consecutive year to 9.42mm barrels/day, the highest crude oil production level since 1972. (Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration).

News for the Week of 10/2/16


  • Apparently the 400-pound trolls of the interwebs are responsible for a 4.1% comparable sales drop at Ares and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board held Neiman Marcus.  Well, AND pain in Texas.  AND tourist spending being down because of the strength of the dollar. Related, Fitch takes a bearish view on a number of retailers while others look at Nine West and Weight Watchers and ask, "Remember Cov-Lite?".  
  • Meanwhile, is it possible for Sears to kill malls when they're already dead?
  • Consumer bankruptcies in Alberta Canada are soaring as unemployment hits a 22-year high of 8.6%.  
  • Takata faces the rare mass-litigation-based bankruptcy filing.
  • Chart of the Week: