With the publication of the IIQ 2019 valuations by 8 BDCs with $107mn in various forms of debt exposure (2022-2024 and both senior and second lien), we’ve added Constellis Holdings to our under-performers list with an initial rating of CCR 3 (Watch List). The debt has been discounted between (6%-30%) from 0% to (5%) in the prior quarter.
This is not surprising as there has been a massive number of changes in senior management in recent months and downgrades from both S&P and Moody’s in the spring, worried about high leverage; cash flow losses and operational challenges. For the BDC sector, this is very big exposure in aggregate, with annual income of approx. $9mn at risk should the company default down the road. With that said $90mn of the debt is held by the three FS-KKR non traded BDCs (FS II-III and IV), which are intending to go public under one banner before long. How Constellis plays out will be of above average interest at FS Investment-KKR in the quarters ahead.
Since the BDC Credit Reporter first warned of a possible Chapter 11 at Empire Resorts, owned by Montreign Operating Company, we’ve learned more. One of its BDC lenders – PennantPark Floating Rate (PFLT) – simultaneously wrote its senior debt down and predicted no loss would occur on its IIQ 2019 Conference Call. We also read a news article from a trade publication providing further information about the roughly $0.5bn in debt outstanding that might be in need of a haircut or restructuring. All this was included in the Company File we keep on every under-performing business, which we’ve updated. Our view of the likelihood of loss – PFLT’s optimism notwithstanding – has increased.
Resorts World Catskills is owned and operated by Montreign Operating Company, LLC, an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of Empire Resorts, Inc., a gaming and entertainment corporation which has operated in the Catskills since 1993. On August 9, Empire Resorts, stung by heavy losses from under-performance at its facility, raised the possibility of a voluntary Chapter 11 filing.
As a result, we’ve reduced the company’s Corporate Credit Rating from CCR 3 to CCR 4- Worry List. There are 3 BDCs – all in the senior debt with $67mn at cost outstanding: PennantPark Floating Rate (PFLT), CM Finance (CMFN) and Business Development Corporation of America (BDCA). Most recently PFLT discounted its debt by (18%), but that may prove too conservative if Chapter 11 occurs. The other two BDCs- whose valuations dates back to March – have discounts of (8%) and (9%), and are likely to be taking bigger reserves for loss when their second quarter results come out.
Monitronics International – an alarm monitoring company that we’ve discussed on two prior occasions on March 23, 2019 and again on May 23, has filed for a pre-packaged Chapter 11. It’s fair to say that the restructuring plan – approved by most creditors but still requiring shareholder approval of the parent of the company – Ascent Capital – is highly complex. From what we understand Monitronics will be shedding about half of its existing debt load; raising a quarter billion dollars of debtor-in-possession debt financing to be followed by even more “exit financing”; as well as raising equity capital through a Rights Offering and receiving $23mn from Ascent as part of a scheme to have the parent absorbed by the subsidiary. At the end of all this Monitronics – despite having nearly $1bn in debt still on its books – will have “the strongest balance sheet in our industry”, according to the CEO. We’re still trying to determine what the impact of this restructuring plan will have on the 5 BDCs with $20.7mn of term debt exposure. At March 31, 2019 the debt was already discounted to varying degrees. A final accounting will have to wait till this bankruptcy process plays out. Management is predicting an exit within 75 days, or mid-September. Given the numerous moving parts, we are skeptical about the timetable, even though we’ve seen this pre-packaged Chapter 11 situations move through the courts in as little as one day ! For the moment at least, the most tangible impact is that investment income on the debt will be interrupted for some or all the third quarter of 2019. The biggest impact will be felt by Business Development Corporation of America (BDCA), which has half the total BDC exposure.
On June 20, 2019, S&P Global Ratings downgraded “its long-term issuer credit rating and issue-level rating to CCC from CCC+, with a negative outlook. It’s also trimmed its rating on senior secured first- and second-lien debt to B- from B”, according to Seeking Alpha. The rating group went to say: “Notwithstanding its favorable near-term liquidity position,” the company will likely look at options “given the business’ downward trajectory and inability to refinance looming unsecured debt maturities in 2022, which are trading at deeply distressed levels,” S&P says. From the BDC Credit Reporter‘s standpoint, this only confirms our prior assessment that a bankruptcy or restructuring is more likely than not. We’ve had the company on our Worry List all year. The stock price is now $1.35, but was recently at an all time low of $1.21.
Bloomberg published an excellent article about the different constituencies amongst Frontier Communications creditors, and the several alternatives being considered to cope with the telecom company’s mountain of debt. No change to the BDC Credit Reporter‘s views, as noted in the Company File.
Despite Frontier Communications recent asset sales, which will reduce its debt mountain, the regional telecom remains in trouble. On June 12, 2019 a JP Morgan analyst downgraded some of the company’s bonds; and the stock price dropped as much as 13% in reaction. Also, a distressed fund manager predicted a Chapter 11 filing would happen in 2019. Currently, the publicly traded FTR trades below $1.50, close to it’s all-time low. This must be disturbing for the multiple BDC lenders – in 4 different debt facilities from senior to subordinated, and in maturities as long as 2027. As we’ve noted in prior articles, BDC exposure aggregates $44.2mn, with non-traded Business Development Corporation of America (BDCA) with the largest exposure by far (nearly $40mn), including some junior. The only public BDC lending to Frontier is OCSI, with $1.5mn in 2024 Senior Term Debt and under $100,000 a year of investment income at risk of interruption. Frontier has been moved to our Worry List , just one step away from bankruptcy or restructuring, along with 32 other troubled BDC borrowers. For the BDC Credit Reporter’s views, see the Company File attached.
May 30, 2019: Yahoo Finance reported Frontier Communications Corporation (ticker: FTR) announced that it has inked a deal to sell its assets and operations in 4 states. The transaction is valued at $1.352 billion in cash, and is subject to regulatory approvals.The sale proceeds are likely to be utilized to pay off the company’s financial obligations. As of Mar 31, 2019, it had $119 million in cash and equivalents with $16,526 million of long-term debt. At the end of first-quarter 2019, Frontier Communications’ leverage ratio was 4.76:1. For the 5 BDCs involved, with $44mn in senior and subordinated debt at risk, this keeps the wolf at bay but is unlikely to result in full repayment at par. This remains on our Watch List.
On May 20, 2019, the wholly-owned subsidiary of publicly traded Ascent Capital Group (ASCMA) – Monitronics International Inc. – entered into a Restructuring Support Agreement (“RSA”) with its latest creditor. This is part of a major restructuring effort that will reduce Monitronics debt and see the parent company merge into the parent as part of a pre-packaged bankruptcy. BDC exposure aggregates $21mn, spread over 5 public and non- public funds.
On April 11, 2019,TransPerfect – the world’s largest language provider by revenue – filed a complaint in the Southern District of New York against rival Lionbridge Technologies and its owner, private equity firm HIG. TransPerfect is seeking at least $700m in damages and compensation. For all the details, see the press release. We have no way to determine who will win the lawsuit or any terms that might be involved. Nonetheless, the amount is sufficiently large – and with recent experience of companies losing major cases in court and being financially crippled thereby in mind – we’ve decided to add Lionbridge Technologies to our Watch List, with a CCR 3 rating. Till this news – and using IVQ 2018 values – there are three BDCs with $31mn in first lien and second lien debt exposure, all carried at par. We’ve also opened a Company File, which we’ll keep updated as this issue wends its way through the courts.