e don’t want to bury the lead: Murray Energy is likely to file for bankruptcy or re-organize and the BDC lenders involved are going to absorb some rather large losses. On September 10, 2019 the Wall Street Journal’s bankruptcy publication reported that the privately-held coal miner had hired Kirkland & Ellis and Evercore to assess restructuring options.
That follows a recent downturn in the short term prospects for the U.S. coal industry, according to Moody’s and as reported by S&P… That’s not to mention the obvious secular decline in the prospects for coal mining and coal usage. Previously in 2019 , the rating groups had downgraded the company’s debt to SD or Selective Default, so the writing has been on the wall.
BDC exposure totals $52.4mn, spread over 6 BDCs. These include publicly traded FS-KKR Capital (FSK) and three sister non-traded BDCs funds (FSIC II, FSIC III and FSIC IV but not – surprisingly – FS Energy). Then there are two others: Cion Investment and Business Development Corporation Of America.The exposure is in two different loans, one which matures in 2021 and the other in 2022. The debt has been on our under-performing list since IVQ 2018 and is currently rated CCR 4 (Worry List), where the chances of an eventual loss are greater than a full recovery.
As of June 2019, the 2021 debt was carried at par but the 2022 debt was discounted by a third. Currently, though, the 2022 debt trades at twice that discount, suggesting holders are not optimistic. We wouldn’t be surprised to see the 2022 debt fully written off once the dust settles, which would result in ($8.5mn) of further losses and ($12.5mn) in Realized Losses, to be absorbed by Cion and BDCA. Less clear is what might happen to the 2021 debt, which still trades at par. We won’t speculate at this point but will point out that – overall – $5.5mn of annual investment income is at risk.
In any case, we expect we’ll be discussing Murray Energy again in the weeks ahead.
On August 7, 2019 Canadian oil and gas company Bellatrix Exploration announced IIQ 2019 results. This followed the restructuring of the company’s balance sheet, as we’ve discussed previously on April 17 and June 5 2019. There were no fireworks in the latest results. Nonetheless, despite the $110mn reduction in debt, the company remains vulnerable to market conditions. We noted in the press release that debt to EBITDA is at 4.3x, not that far off the maximum covenanted multiple of 5.0x.
The company retains a Corporate Credit Rating of 3. Total exposure at June 30 2019 was $95.9mn, mostly in second lien debt due in 2023 and valued close to par. All outstandings are held by FS-KKR Capital funds, with the bulk retained by FS Energy & Power ($72mn). No immediate cause for concern – which is why Bellatrix is on our Watch List – but given the hit and miss nature of the business and its exposure to global energy markets, this credit will continue to be worth watching.
On June 17, 2019 publicly traded gas exploration company Ultra Petroleum Corp (UPL) issued a press release announcing the extension of an offer to exchange the 7.125% Senior Notes due 2025 of its wholly owned subsidiary, Ultra Resources, Inc. for up to $90.0 million aggregate principal amount of new 9.00% Cash / 2.50% PIK Senior Secured Third Lien Notes due 2024, aka the Third Lien Notes. Unaffected directly is the only BDC with exposure – FS Energy & Power – whose investment of $45mn at face value is in the $975mn April 2024 senior secured Term Loan. That’s one of multiple debt facilities in this heavily leveraged company, with nearly $2.0bn in debt, even after shedding both Term loan and Revolver outstandings, as detailed in the latest 10-Q and on the IQ 2019 Conference Call. Thankfully, the BDC’s debt sits at the top of the capital structure, just under a Revolver, whose balance was only $38mn. Whether the exchange happens or not, though, the company will remain on our Watch List, given the large amount of debt and the fact that the price of Ultra’s common stock has dropped to an all-time low. The stock used to trade at over $15.0 a share, but is now at $0.35. There is close to $3.0mn of investment income at risk for FS Energy & Power.
On June 4, 2019 Canadian oil exploration company Bellatrix announced the completion of its restructuring plan, which we wrote about in an earlier post on April 17, 2019. The press release provides useful summary details of the various components of the recapitalization but also addresses the 2023 second lien debt, which accounts for the $106mn BDC exposure to 4 different FS-KKR Capital BDCs, both traded (FSK) and non-traded. The deal is a partial debt for equity swap with lenders reducing the oil company’s total debt load by $110mn.
Publicly traded Canadian gas explorer Bellatrix Exploration is once again seeking to restructure its debt-heavy balance sheet. A Canadian court has allowed a meeting of debt and equity holders to be scheduled for May 15, 2019. At the meeting a complex arrangement of debt exchange, forgiveness and additional issuance, and the issuance of new stock, will be voted on by the different classes of stakeholders. The Company appears to have garnered broad – but not conclusive – support for its plans. If the recapitalization occurs any immediate leverage or cash flow concerns will be alleviated. If not approved, the potential outcome is hard to evaluate but is unlikely to be positive for most of the parties. BDC exposure is high at $105mn and all concentrated in the second lien 2023 Term Loan. For our View of the credit risks involved see the Company File.