Centric Brands Inc: Reorganization Plan Approved

Since May 2020 Centric Brands, Inc. has been under bankruptcy court protection. Now, though, the company is poised to exit that status by mid-October 2020 following court approval of a reorganization plan and some well placed settlement payments to disgruntled creditors. The deal seems like a debt-for-equity swap, with first lien and second lien lenders receiving equity in the restructured company while continuing as lenders in new, smaller, debt facilities.

After all conditions have been finalized, Centric Brands — whose owned brands include Zac Posen, Hudson and Swims — plans to exit Chapter 11 by the end of October with a “recapitalized” balance sheet, as well as new financing facilities, “significantly reduced” debt and interest payments, plus the full support of all of its lenders.

This is a Major BDC investment by BDC Credit Reporter’s standards: i.e. over $100mn at cost or $129.9mn in this case. There are three BDCs involved, headed by Ares Capital (ARCC), which is invested in both the debt and equity of Centric. Then there’s non-traded TCW Direct Lending VII and publicly traded Garrison Capital (GARS). The debt held by the BDCs matures in 2021 and 2023. The latter with a cost of close to $100mn is valued at roughly a (15%) discount and is likely to be partly written off when the company exits bankruptcy. That will result in about ($15mn) in realized losses along with nearly ($25mn) ARCC holds in the equity of the insolvent entity, or a total loss of about ($40mn). The 2021 debt is Debtor In Possession financing and is likely to be repaid in full. What we don’t know is if the lender-now-owners will have to inject incremental new capital or not. More details to follow.

This will be a significant – but not overwhelming loss, principally for ARCC, and to a much lesser degree for the other two. On the other hand, it looks like all the players will live to fight another day and – potentially – recoup proceeds lost from an eventual sale of the restructured Centric Brands another day.

We will be upgrading the company from CCR 5 to CCR 3 or CCR 4 when the exit from bankruptcy occurs. As we’ve written in earlier articles about Centric, much will depend on how generous the new lender owners have been in structuring the going forward balance sheet. The company continues to operate in an industry – lifestyle brands sold mostly at retail – that continues to be pandemic impacted. Furthermore, some debt for equity swaps in the past have been done with less than generous terms, rapidly returning the business to the bankruptcy court. We hope Centric won’t be a “Chapter 22” story.