Serta Simmons Bedding: IIIQ 2020 Update

We’ve written about bedding manufacturer Serta Simmons Bedding LLC multiple times before because much has been going on with the company. Even before the pandemic, the company was underperforming. The BDC Credit Reporter downgraded Serta to a CCR 3 rating in the IQ 2019. That was raised to a CCR 4 in the IQ 2020 when the debt of the BDC was discounted by (50%), and talk of bankruptcy was in the air. Our most recent update occurred on June 23, 2020 shortly after the company dodged the bankruptcy bullet by undertaking a controversial restructuring gambit.

As this thoughtful article from Bloomberg explains, management sided with certain of its existing lenders to (essentially) stiff some of the other lenders; while reducing total debt and generating fresh liquidity at the same time. We won’t get into a detailed discussion of how the situation played out but will say that the only BDC with exposure – Barings BDC (BBDC) – joined in with the “winners” in this internecine struggle. The losers – led by Apollo Global – went to court to dispute the deal and lost.

For our purposes, BBDC went from a $4.9mn par position ($3.9mn at cost) in a first lien term loan due in November 2023 priced at LIBOR + 350 (with a 1% floor) to positions of $10.6mn at cost in two “super priority loans” with a August 1 2023 end date, but priced at LIBOR + 750, also with a 1% floor. Although pricing is the same, one tranche is a “first out” and the other a “second out” and are valued differently by BBDC and the market. As of September 30, 2020 BBDC values the first out at a premium to par and the second lien at a (12%) discount, slightly worse than the prior quarter when this debt was first booked.

To get to this point – better pricing and “super priority” status – BBDC had to agree to swap out its earlier debt at a discount and advance new funds to the struggling mattress manufacturer. Not clear from the BDC’s financial statements is whether a realized loss of any sort was booked as part of this bold exchange. (We had first thought BBDC was going for a debt for equity swap, but realize now that this is a debt for debt swap – also a standard restructuring technique).

At this stage, we have upgraded Serta to CCR 3 status. However, we don’t believe the company is out of the woods yet given market conditions and the still substantial debt load. Furthermore, BBDC has essentially “tripled down” in terms of total exposure, raising what was a modest exposure to a more material level. Undoubtedly, we will be revisiting Serta’s long and winding credit road again.