Disruption from the Vantage Point of the Disrupted
2/6/19 Read Time = 7.4 a$$-kicking minutes
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🗞News of the Week (7 Reads)🗞
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 on Monday. 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 (see below), begs the question: why is it taking so long?
If you blinked, you may have missed it. Introducing the shortest chapter 11 bankruptcy ever.
Given that there’s not much new to say, we’re going to regurgitate our report about FULLBEAUTY Brands Holdings Corp. from January 6th. We wrote it after the company publicly posted its proposed plan of reorganization and disclosure statement and issued a press release about its proposed restructuring. We have fresh commentary thereafter.
FULLBEAUTY Brands Inc., an Apax Partners’ disaster…uh, “investment”…will, despite earlier reports of an out-of-court resolution to the contrary, be filing for bankruptcy after all in what appears to be either a late January or an early February filing after the company completes its prepackaged solicitation of creditors. Back in May in “Plus-Size Beauty is a Plus-Size Sh*tfest (Short Apax Partners’ Fashion Sense),” we wrote:
Here’s some free advice to our friends at Apax Partners: hire some millennials. And some women. When you have 23 partners worldwide and only 1 of them is a woman (in Tel Aviv, of all places), it’s no wonder that certain women’s apparel investments are going sideways. Fresh off of the bankruptcies of Answers.com and rue21, another recent leveraged buyout by the private equity firm is looking a bit bloated: NY-based FullBeauty Brands, a plus-size direct-to-consumer e-commerce and catalogue play with a portfolio of six brands (Woman Within, Roamans, Jessica London, Brylane Home, BC Outlet, Swimsuits for All, and Eilos).
Wait. Hold up. Direct-to-consumer? Check. E-commerce? Check. Isn’t that, like, all the rage right now? Yes, unless you’re levered to the hilt and have a relatively scant social media presence. Check and check.
Per a press release on Thursday, the company has an agreement with nearly all of its first-lien-last out lenders, first lien lenders, second lien lenders and equity sponsors on a deleveraging transaction that will shed $900mm of debt from the company’s balance sheet. It also has a commitment for $30mm in new liquidity in the form of a new money term loan with existing lenders. Per Bloomberg:
About 87.5 percent of the common reorganized equity would go to first-lien lenders, 10 percent to second liens, and 2.5 percent to the sponsor, according to people with knowledge of the plan who weren’t authorized to speak publicly.
Which, in English, means that Oaktree Capital Group LLC, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., and Voya Financial Inc. will end up owning this retailer. Your plus-sized clothing, powered by hedge funds. Apax and Charlesbank Capital, the other PE sponsor, stand to maintain 2.5% of the equity which, from our vantage point, appears rather generous (PETITION Note: there must be a decent amount of cross-holdings between the first lien and second lien debt for that to be the case). Here is the difference in capital structure:
What’s the story here? Simply put, it’s just another retail with far too much leverage in this retail environment.
Of course, there’s the obligatory product strategy, inventory control, and e-commerce excuses as well. Not to mention…wait for it…Amazon Inc ($AMZN)!
“In addition to these operational hurdles, FullBeauty has also faced competition from online retail giant Amazon, Inc. and retail chains, including Walmart Inc. and Kohl’s Corporation, that have recently entered the plus-size clothing space.”
Kirkland & Ellis LLP, PJT Partners ($PJT) and AlixPartners represent the company.
We give bankruptcy professionals grief all of the time for what often appears to be fee extraction in various cases. In our view, there have been some pretty egregious examples of inefficiency in the system and, considering a number of our readers are management teams of distressed companies, we feel it’s imperative that we cure for a blatant information dislocation and help educate them. This, though, appears to be an extraordinary case. In the other direction.
The company’s professionals confirmed the company’s plan of reorganization at the first day hearing of the case — just one day after filing the case. As Bloomberg noted on Monday, this would “set a new record for emerging from court protection in under 24 hours.” Consider the record set. Bloomberg reported:
The previous record for the fastest Chapter 11 process is held by Blue Bird Body Co., which exited bankruptcy in 2006 in less than two days. Fullbeauty and its advisers aim to beat that mark.
“We structured this deal as if bankruptcy never happened for our trade creditors, vendors and employees to avoid further disruption to the company,” attorney Jon Henes at Kirkland & Ellis, the company’s legal counsel, said in an interview. “In this situation, every day in court is another day of costs without any corresponding benefit.”
This makes Roust Corporation Inc. (6 days) and Southcross Holdings (13 days) look like child’s play. For that reason — and that reason alone — we’ll forgive the company’s professionals for their blatant victory lap with Bloomberg (link above): it’s curious that Bloomberg had a completed interview ready to go at 9:26am on the morning of the company’s bankruptcy filing. Clearly Kirkland & Ellis LLP, PJT Partners LP ($PJT) and Houlihan Lokey Capital ($HL) want to milk this extraordinary result for all it’s worth. We can’t really blame them, truthfully. That is, unless and/or until the company violates the “Two Year Rule” a la Charlotte Russe.
Anyway, why so quick? Well, because they can. The entire capital structure is on board with the proposed plan and trade will ride through paid and unimpaired. All contracts will be assumed. There are no brick-and-mortar stores to deal with: this is a web and catalogue-based business (which is mind-boggling considering the amount of debt). Like we said, this case is extraordinary. Per the Company:
It is in the best interest of the estates that the Debtors remain in bankruptcy for as short a time-period as possible. If FullBeauty is forced to remain in chapter 11 longer than necessary, it may be required to seek debtor in possession financing, which would cost the Debtors unnecessary bank fees and professional expenses. In addition, although January has been relatively smooth in terms of vendor outreach, FullBeauty expects that trade could contract very quickly if the company remains in chapter 11 longer than necessary—particularly because many vendors are in foreign jurisdictions and they do not understand the nuances of prepackaged cases versus longer prearranged or traditional chapter 11 cases. Every day that FullBeauty remains in chapter 11 results in cash spent that could go to developing the business.
Indeed, for once, it appears that the best interests of the debtor company were, indeed, met.*
*Which is not to say that we believe the out-of-court bills will be light. Or that it was a good idea in the first place to lever this business to the hilt.
San Diego-based specialty women’s apparel fast-fashion retailer Charlotte Russe Holding Inc. is the latest retailer to file for bankruptcy. The company has 512 stores in 48 U.S. states. The company owns a number of different brands that it sells primarily via its brick-and-mortar channel; it has some brands, most notably “Peek,” which it sells online and wholesale to the likes of Nordstrom.
The company’s capital structure consists of:
$22.8mm 6.75% ‘22 first lien revolving credit facility (ex-accrued and unpaid interest, expenses and fees)(Bank of America NA), and
$150mm 8.5% ‘23 second lien term loan ($89.3mm funded, exclusive of unpaid interest, expenses and fees)(Jefferies Finance LLC). The term loan lenders have first lien security interests in the company’s intellectual property.
The company’s trajectory over the last decade is an interesting snapshot of the trouble confronting PE-backed brick-and-mortar retailers. The story begins with a leveraged buyout which, at this point, pretty much presupposes the end. In 2009, Advent International acquired the debtors through a $380mm tender offer, levering up the company with $175mm in 12% subordinated debentures in the process. At the time, the debtors also issued 85k shares of Series A Preferred Stock to Advent and others. Both the debentures and the Preferred Stock PIK’d interest (which, for the uninitiated, means that the principal or base amounts increased by the respective percentages rather than cash pay interest or dividends being paid over time). The debtors later converted the Preferred Stock to common stock.
Thereafter, the debtors made overtures towards an IPO. Indeed, business was booming. From 2011 through 2014, the debtors grew considerably as net sales increased from $776.8mm to $984mm. During this period, in May of 2013, the debtors entered into the pre-petition term loan, used the proceeds to repay a portion of the subordinated debentures and converted the remaining $121.1mm of subordinated debentures to 8% Preferred Stock (held by Advent, management and other investors). In March 2014, the debtors and its lenders increased the term loan by $80mm and used the proceeds to pay a one-time dividend. That’s right folks: a dividend recapitalization!! WE LOVE THOSE. Per the company:
In May 2014, the Debtors paid $40 million in dividends to holders of Common Stock, $9.8 million in dividends to holders of Series 1 Preferred Stock, which covered all dividends thus far accrued, and paid $65.7 million towards the Series 1 Preferred Stock principal. The Debtors’ intention was to use a portion of the net proceeds of the IPO to repay a substantial amount of the then approximately $230 million of principal due on the Prepetition Term Loan.
In other words, Advent received a significant percentage of its original equity check back by virtue of its Preferred Stock and Common Stock holdings.
Guess what happened next? Well, after all of that money was sucked out of the business, performance, CURIOUSLY, began to slip badly. You’ve literally read this story before (see, e.g., Payless, Nine West, Sears). Per the company:
Following fifteen (15) consecutive quarters of increased sales…the Debtors’ performance began to materially deteriorate and plans for the IPO were put on hold. Specifically, gross sales decreased from $984 million in fiscal year 2014 with approximately $93.8 million in adjusted EBITDA, to $928 million in fiscal year 2017 with approximately $41.2 million in adjusted EBITDA. More recently, the Debtors’ performance has materially deteriorated, as gross sales decreased from $928 million in fiscal year 2017 with approximately $41.2 million in adjusted EBITDA, to an estimated $795.5 million in fiscal year 2018 with approximately $10.3 million in adjusted EBITDA.
Consequently, the company engaged in a year-long process of trying to address its balance sheet and/or find a strategic or financial buyer. Ultimately, in February 2018, the debtors consummated an out-of-court restructuring that (i) wiped out equity (including Advent’s), (ii) converted 58% of the term loan into 100% of the equity, (iii) lowered the interest rate on the remaining term loan and (iv) extended the term loan maturity out to 2023. Advent earned itself, as consideration for the cancellation of its shares, “broad releases” under the restructuring support agreement. The company, as part of the wider restructuring, also secured substantial concessions from its landlords and vendors. At the time, this looked like a rare “success”: an out-of-court deal that resulted in both balance sheet relief and operational cost containment. It wasn’t enough.
Performance continued to decline. Year-over-year, Q3 ‘18 sales declined by $35mm and EBITDA by $8mm. Per the company:
The Debtors suffered from a dramatic decrease in sales and in-store traffic, and their merchandising and marketing strategies failed to connect with their core demographic and outpace the rapidly evolving fashion trends that are fundamental to their success. The Debtors shifted too far towards fashion basics, did not effectively reposition their e-commerce business and social media engagement strategy for success and growth, and failed to rationalize expenses related to store operations to better balance brick-and-mortar operations with necessary e-commerce investments.
In the end, bankruptcy proved unavoidable. So now what? The company has a commitment from its pre-petition lender, Bank of America NA, for $50mm in DIP financing (plus $15mm for LOCs) as well as the use of cash collateral. The DIP will roll-up the pre-petition first lien revolving facility. This DIP facility is meant to pay administrative expenses to allow for store closures (94, in the first instance) and a sale of the debtors’ assets. To date, however, despite 17 potential buyers executing NDAs, no stalking horse purchaser has emerged. They have until February 17th to find one; otherwise, they’re required to pursue a “full chain liquidation.” Notably, the debtors suggested in their bankruptcy petitions that the estate may be administratively insolvent. YIKES. So, who gets screwed if that is the case?
Top creditors include Fedex, Google, a number of Chinese manufacturers and other trade vendors. Landlords were not on the top 30 creditor list, though Taubman Company, Washington Prime Group Inc., Simon Property Group L.P., and Brookfield Property REIT Inc. were quick to make notices of appearance in the cases. In total, unsecured creditors are owed approximately $50mm. Why no landlords? Timing. Despite the company going down the sh*tter, it appears that the debtors are current with the landlords (and filing before the first business day of the new month helps too). Not to be cynical, but there’s no way that Cooley LLP — typically a creditors’ committee firm — was going to let the landlords be left on the hook here. Just saying.
And, so, we’ll find out within the next two weeks whether the brand has any value and can fetch a buyer. In the meantime, Gordon Brothers Retail Partners LLC and Hilco Merchant Resources LLC will commence liquidation sales at 90+ locations. We see that, mysteriously, they somehow were able to free up some bandwidth to take on an new assignment sans a joint venture with literally all of their primary competitors (see, in contrast, Gymboree). 🤑
Another day, another pharma company that has filed for bankruptcy. Curious, too: we don’t recall seeing any restructuring professionals predicting that pharma would be the hot restructuring industry of choice. But we digress.
Here, Chicago-based Novum Pharma LLC, a special pharmaceutical company which owns and manufactures a portfolio of topical dermatology products, filed for bankruptcy in the District of Delaware. The company’s bankruptcy papers are interesting in that they provide a solid overview of the distribution channel for pharma products from the manufacturer to the end user. Disgruntled with all of the players taking a piece of revenues along the way, Novum Pharma attempted to disrupt the status quo by deployment of an alternative business model. Clearly it didn’t achieve the result it had hoped for.
Per the company, here’s how the “traditional” distribution channel typically works:
As you can see, the PBMs have a significant amount of leverage on account of their ability to determine which pharmaceuticals will be covered by insurance and which won’t. As a result, the company attempted its alternative. This model was predicated upon the concepts of “enhanced patient access” and “hassle free” access. It doesn’t appear that the company achieved that. Here’s how it would work:
Once the healthcare professional writes a script, the patient could get their prescription through one of three ways:
Via a nationwide network of specialty pharmacies like Cardinal Health 105 Inc., a specialty pharmacy division of Cardinal Health Inc., that the company sells its products to and that have agreed to comply with the company’s guidelines;
If 105 Inc. or the other specialty pharmacies cannot fill the prescription because a PBM denied coverage or otherwise, the pharmacy could transfer the prescription to a “consignment hub,” which is a specialty pharmacy that stocks the Debtor’s products on a consignment or bailment basis and will fill a prescription for a nominal fee (paid by the Debtor); or
If a patient seeks to fill the prescription at a pharmacy that doesn’t participate in the company’s network and the PBM denies coverage, the patient will receive the drug for free.
As you might imagine, prescribing physicians are encouraged to provide patients with a hotline number where, no doubt, patients, are encouraged to go route #1. Why? Because the company earns revenue from the specialty pharmacies (read: from Cardinal Health). But, per the company:
In contrast, when a prescription is filled by a pharmacy, the Debtor expends funds to facilitate the transaction. In particular, when a healthcare plan covers some or all of the cost of a Dermatology Product prescription, the Debtor, through its Co-Pay Vendors, pays the amount that is not covered by the healthcare plan. Alternatively, when a healthcare plan rejects a Dermatology Product prescription, the Debtor facilitates the transfer of that prescription to one of its consignment hubs so that the prescription can be filled and mailed to the patient, at no cost to the patient.
Anyone else see the problem with all of this?!? Don’t know about you, but the added friction of calling a hotline and finding some random specialty pharmacy rather than going to the neighborhood CVS is far from “hassle free.”
All of these gymnastics created a company with $19.4mm in assets, the lion’s share of which is its intellectual property. In addition, there are some consulting and sales support contracts and A/R. On the liability side of the balance sheet, the company has $15.2mm due and owing on a secured basis to lender RGP Pharmacap LLC (at a prime plus 9.75% or 14% interest rate, payable in monthly principal installments), and $2.8mm in lease obligations that are secured, in part, by a $500k letter of credit issued by The Huntington National Bank.
Per the company, among the factors that precipitated the company’s bankruptcy were…
…among other things, (i) manufacturing hurdles leading to production delays and product “stock-outs”; (ii) a dispute with Cardinal and CVS regarding the price at which the Dermatology Products can be returned to the Debtor; (iii) managed care actions leading to increased prescription rejection rates for the Dermatology Products; and (iv) market dilution and decreased total prescriptions due to unauthorized generic alternatives being introduced into the market.
In response, the company implemented cost-cutting measures like outsourcing its “back office” function, downsizing its sales force and entering into a more cost-effective lease. But these measures didn’t address the fundamental business challenges confronting the company. The company continued:
The Debtor’s historically low prescription approval rates, compounded by (i) the Debtor’s persistent manufacturing issues which directly damaged the Debtor’s business because the Debtor’s sales force was unable to distribute sample products during a critical product growth period and HCPs were forced to prescribe alternative medications, (ii) the Debtor’s working capital shortages stemming in part from the Cardinal/CVS product return dispute and (iii) generic drug competition (which the Debtor believes is unlawful), led the Debtor to the inevitable conclusion that its business was no longer sustainable and that a restructuring and refinancing of the business would be necessary.
The chapter 11 filing is meant to preserve the company’s assets and provide it with a forum through which to conduct a bankruptcy sale process of the dermatology products to maximize value for the company’s creditors. Based on the various disputes the company has with Cardinal/CVS, there may be some litigation here for an as-of-yet-unformed Creditors’ Committee to pursue as well.
Dutch-based non-operating single-purpose-entity, Arpeni Pratama Ocean Line Investment B.V., filed a prepackaged bankruptcy case in the Southern District of New York to effectuate a restructuring of its $141mm Floating Rate Guaranteed Secured Notes due 2021 (HSBC Bank USA NA, as agent), the issuance of which is the legal entity's sole reason to exist. The Debtor's plan sponsor, PT Arpeni Pratama Ocean Line Tbk, is the owner and operator of a fleet of Indonesian flagged dry bulk vessels and a guarantor of the debt. It operates 14 wholly-owned and 2 chartered vessles, the use of which is to provide coal transportation and jetty management services to one of Indonesia's largest power plants.
Why is this company in bankruptcy? Per the Company:
"...the Debtor is a single purpose entity created for the purpose of issuing the Senior Secured Notes. Accordingly, the Debtor is wholly dependent on its parent company, the Plan Sponsor, to generate sufficient revenues so as to permit for the repayment of the Senior Secured Notes. The Plan Sponsor, who derives substantially all of its revenues its drybulk shipping operations, has operated in an increasingly challenging market since the financial crisis of 2008 where operational costs have continued to increase and revenues for drybulk shipping have remained at historic lows. These factors, coupled with increasing competition from smaller and less leveraged drybulk shippers, has made it more difficult for the Plan Sponsor to service its existing indebtedness, including the Senior Secured Notes."
Accordingly, the Debtor and the Plan Sponsor have agreed to equitize substantially all of the Debtor's and the Plan Sponsor's indebtedness "to permit the Plan Sponsor to position itself on a more level landscape to its competitors to better prepare itself to weather the continuing uncertainty in the shipping industry." Pursuant to the Plan, holders of the notes will receive common shares in the Plan Sponsor, warrants, and a small cash payment.
Dallas/Fort Worth-based mental health facilities operator, SAS Healthcare Inc., filed for bankruptcy last week in the Northern District of Texas. The more we read about these healthcare bankruptcies, the less and less assured we feel about healthcare generally. Holy sh*t a lot of them have hair on them.
Here, the debtors operate three mental health treatment facilities — in Arlington, Dallas, and Fort Worth. Therein, the debtors provided — and we mean, "provided" — in-patient and out-patient mental health care to children, adolescents and adults struggling with substance abuse and addiction, mental health disorders and behavioral and psychological disorders. Why the past tense? Thanks to an investigation by the Tarrant County District Attorney and subsequent indictments for detaining patients for longer than the 48-hour statutory maximum, the debtors ceased operations in December 2018.
The debtors —owned in equal 1/3 parts by three individuals — has $8.26mm in secured debt (Ciera Bank), a $503k drawn secured revolving line of credit with Ciera Bank, a $4.3mm secured term loan with Southside Bank (exclusive of another $3mm in unpaid principal and interest), a $5.6mm construction loan with Southside Bank (exclusive of another $4.3mm in unpaid principal and accrued interest); a $850k secured loan with Southside, a $400k second lien secured bridge note with REP Perimeter Holdings LLC, and $1.325mm subordinated secured note from the owners.
Back to those closures. The grand jury investigation led to a lot of negative publicity which, in turn, led to an abrupt end in patient referrals from the two largest referral sources. The end effect? Decimated revenue. The company secured its bridge loan and performed operational triage but the second indictment proved to be a death knell. Without ongoing operations and with all of that debt, the debtors had to file for chapter 11 to trigger the automatic stay and buy itself time to conduct a marketing and sale process to sell their assets to stalking horse purchaser and pre-petition lender, REP Perimeter Holdings LLC.
Nebraska-based Consolidated Infrastructure Group Inc. filed for bankruptcy last week in the District of Delaware; it provides underground utility and damage prevention services to players in the underground construction, digging and maintenance space. It serves or served large telecom and utility companies, such as AT&T, Cox Communications, and Comcast. it also currently has contracts with the Northern Indiana Public Service Company, the City of Davenport in Iowa and with ONE Gas Inc.
The company has little in the way of assets and liabilities. Relating to the former, the company has the above-noted contracts, a $3mm receivable from AT&T, some intellectual property and interests in insurance policies. Liabilities include two letters of credit, and a small unsecured advance by prepetition equityholder and now-postpetition DIP lender ($3mm), Parallel149, a private equity firm.
The company has been embroiled in drama since its inception in 2016. It was formed by former employees of USIC LLC, a much-larger competitor, and the two have been locked up in litigation relating to, among other things, breach of contract (non-compete).
The company filed for bankruptcy to pursue a going concern 363 sale and liquidating plan. It also hopes to recover the AT&T receivable. Finally, it also contends that a sale of the contracts would avoid a public safety crisis in the communities where the company's contracts are located.
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