Frankly, we learn more from the public record about what’s going on inside the North Korean politburo than what’s happening in many private companies that are financed by BDCs. Oil patch services company 1888 Industrial Services, LLC was no exception to that rule till the latest conference call by Investcorp Credit Management (ICMB), which provided a substantial update. Here are the highlights:
As we know from Advantage Data‘s records, and other sources, the company was previously known as AAR Intermediate Holdings, and ICMB, Medley Capital (MCC) and Sierra Income were lenders since the IIIQ 2014. As you can imagine that was just about the worst time to be in anything energy-related and the debt and equity investments made, which began at $88mn, quickly deteriorated in value and eventually – in 2015 – went on non accrual. Long story short (because that’s all we know) the company was restructured and renamed 1888 Industrial Services on October 1, 2017. We know that ICMB – and probably the other lenders – booked substantial Realized Losses around the time of the restructuring in 2027.
Under its new identity the value of some of the company’s debt began to deteriorate – according to Sierra Income and MCC’s valuations. In the IQ 2019, some of the debt was placed on non-accrual. ICMB, though, values its debt at cost or at a premium. The BDC’s manager made this explanation on its latest CC, which might explain the discrepancy: ” 1888 made an acquisition to enable the company to grow outside its historic exclusive focus on the DJ Basin, diversifying into the Permian and Wyoming. Our newest debt to term loan D is structured senior to the term loan B, which was created during the restructuring, which is why you’ll see a significant difference in the marks on the 2 tranches“
ICMB also indicated that it had been actively involved in the operations of the contractor, hiring both a new CEO and CFO. Moreover, ICMB has provided new working capital debt to fund operations and has agreed to accept “payment-in-kind” on some of its debt facilities outstanding. This was explained as follows:
“We have temporarily gone to PIK. We will evaluate that over the next 3 to 6 months. And it is really driven by a lot of the working capital needs. And there’s a huge ramp-up right now around Permian, and so we’ve got to make sure that we don’t starve the capital of cash for our benefit and not facilitate that growth because we all want more cash flow“.
ICMB hopes all these measures will help the company and lead to an exit in as little as 2 years. The BDC Credit Reporter – as is our mandate – is not as optimistic. It’s no secret that the oil field services sector is not performing well. Moreover, the advancing of new monies and going from cash to PIK are usually (albeit not always, we’ll concede) signs of financial weakness. Then there’s the discounts being applied by other BDCs to some of the Term debt. For example a year ago Sierra Income was valuing one debt tranche at a premium to cost. As of September 2019, the debt was on non-accrual and being written down by (72%).
We have placed 1888 Industrial Services on both our Worry List – CCR 4– and Non Performing List – CCR 5. Total BDC exposure appears to be (we’re waiting on MCC’s results) just under $60mn, all of the cost in one form of debt or another. This is ICMB’s largest single exposure, and material for both MCC and Sierra so piercing the veil and keeping up with developments at the company – as best we can – is worth doing. Is this a laudable turnaround in waiting or a can kicked down the road that might eventually end up a credit disaster ?