Centric Brands Inc.: May File Bankruptcy

According to news reports, Centric Brands Inc. has hired restructuring advisers and is considering a Chapter 11 filing. As always, we know this “from people familiar with the matter”. That’s most likely the borrower, or the borrower’s many professional advisers, whispering down the phone line. Centric designs and manufactures apparel under licensing agreements from brands. A debt load of $1.4bn needs to be restructured. Public shareholders appear to have given up already. The stock trades at $0.77.

The BDC Credit Reporter initiated coverage with a CCR 3 rating back in late December 2019. As you’ll see from a quick reading, we’d reviewed the company’s filings and were already deeply worried before Covid-19 struck. Now a move down to CCR 5 – non performing – status seems all but inevitable. For the moment, we are downgrading Centric to CCR 4, but don’t expect that to be for long.

BDC exposure since we last wrote continues to be “Major”: i.e. over $100mn. At 12/31/2019 there was $123mn invested at cost by three BDCs and an FMV of $113.1mn. Most at risk of loss remains Ares Capital (ARCC) whose $24.6mn invested at cost in the company’s equity is looking fragile. The leading BDC also holds a $57.8mn position in the First Lien 2023 Term Loan, along with TCW Direct and Garrison Capital (GARS). In a bankruptcy we assume there’ll be some kind of debt for equity swap and a haircut will be taken. Judging by year end 2019 valuations from all three BDCs, any loss will be minor as the debt was still valued at par. We remain much more skeptical just by looking at the enterprise value of the business before Covid-19 came along, let alone now.

We will learn more shortly most likely and will come back with a better assessment of what ultimate BDC losses are likely to be.