Sequential Brands: To Sell Brands

On October 14, 2019 Sequential Brands, Inc. announced its intention to explore various strategic options, including a sale of some of its brands. Other alternatives were also mooted including a stock buyback; making an acquisition and “others”, but the sale is the most likely. The Chairman of the company said the decision was triggered by interest expressed by third parties in acquiring some of the company’s retail lines.

We’ve been tracking Sequential for some time and get the impression the Board is putting a good face on a bad situation. As we reported back on May 29, 2019, the company is under-performing financially and highly leveraged – a deadly combination. As noted on April 19, 2019 Sequential already sold two brands, but with little lasting impact. More recently, in another ominous sign, its CEO has resigned and Stifel has been hired to help explore its options.

Something is going to happen here before long but exactly what is unclear, though our money in on an asset sale or a bankruptcy filing. The lenders involved – which includes 4 BDCs and exposure at cost of $292mn – will be very interested in the outcome. All but $13mn of the BDC exposure is held by one of three KS-KKR BDCs, including $61mn by publicly traded FSK. The only unrelated BDC is Apollo Investment (AINV). The $10mn invested in the equity of the company – all by FS-KKR entities – seems a lost cause as Sequential’s stock price continues to reach new all-time lows and currently is a penny stock with a value just $0.27.

More important will be how the 2024 Term debt in which all the remaining BDC exposure lies- currently trading at a modest (3%) discount – will fare. The lenders will be hoping that Sequential will sell assets sufficient to pay off some or all its debt. That could happen, but nothing is for certain in the retail sector these days, so we’ll be staying tuned to what is likely to be a major news story in the weeks ahead, given the size of BDC exposure, and the urgent tone of the proceedings.