Posts for TCW Direct Lending

School Specialty, Inc. : Restructured

On September 15, 2020 we heard from School Specialty, Inc. that essentially all its assets had been acquired by a group led by TCW Asset Management and a couple of other partners. The company will now operate as School Specialty, LLC. The company’s Chief Operating Officer has been named Chief Executive Officer.

We’ve been following the School Specialty story for some time and divine – given that the company’s lenders included non-traded BDC TWC Direct Lending – that this is a restructuring, rather than a sale to a third party. The restructuring has been on the cards for some time, as discussed in our earlier article published on April 13,2020.

What we don’t know, though, is how the company was restructured and what the implications will be for different creditors, including TCW Direct Lending. As of the IIQ 2020, the original debt was trading at a discount of only (13%) and $8mn in new debt advanced more recently to tide the business over was carried at par. This suggests the BDC does not expect to take any great write-offs. However, we won’t know anything tangible till when the IIIQ 2020 TCW Direct Lending results are published, when we expect to work out the impact on income and FMV.

The BDC Credit Reporter had rated the company CCR 4, but is now upgrading the rating to CCR 3. We can’t in good conscience place the company back on “performing normally” status (CCR 2) till we see how generous the capital restructure was, and we learn more about the outlook for the school supplies business. We can’t even be sure whether the BDC will be writing off any interest unpaid during a long forbearance period. We believe the odds are high that some income – at the very least – will have been lost.

School Specialty was having trouble even before Covid-19 came along and made matters much worse. Given that TCW now seems to be both lender and investor, this company could be in the database – if not the underperformers list – for many more years to come, rather than being paid off in 2020 as previously anticipated. From what little we know, though, the damage on is a large position for the BDC appears to be modest.

Pace Industries: Exits Chapter 11

It’s good to have a plan: a restructuring plan that is. Pace Industries entered Chapter 11 back on April 13, 2020 with a pre-agreed restructuring agreement worked out with its lenders. Just six weeks later, the manufacturer of die casts, is out of bankruptcy and with “a new go-forward growth strategy, focused on building its position in key industries and expanding in growth markets”. This speedy exit has been possible by both the conversion of 100% of secured debt (!) into equity and the provision of Debtor In Possession (“DIP”) financing by those same creditors, now owners.

For the only BDC with exposure – non-traded TCW Direct Lending – this will be a bittersweet resolution. The lender has advanced $96.2mn in senior debt, discounted (19%) at March 31, 2020, just before the filing. We can only guess – but we won’t – at what the ultimate write-down might be. The debt will turn into equity in Pace. We’re not clear if the DIP financing will be converted into longer term debt financing or will be extinguished. If that’s the case, total invested capital by TCW might yet increase.

We will circle back to the BDC when IIQ 2020 results are published to get all the details straight. This is definitely a set-back for the lenders – and for TCW – but hope springs eternal that – over time – the company will prosper and what has been lost will be recouped. As a result, we expect to be covering the company for some time yet. We’re currently upgrading Pace from CCR 5 to CCR 3, still underperforming, till we get all the perinent details.

Production Resource Group LLC: Placed On Non-Accrual

The BDC Credit Reporter is having a hard time keeping up with the ever increasing number of BDC-financed companies being added to the non accrual category. This latest addition, though, is a big one, so we apologize for the delay. Production Resource Group, LLCrents equipment, labor and production management services to end users in sports, live TV, music and film“, says bankruptcy publication Petition. As you’d expect, with Covid-19 and those end users in lockdown, business is not good.

There are three BDCs with a remarkable $511.3mn invested at cost in the company’s first lien 2024 term debt. Leading the trio is non-traded FS Investment II with $381mn, followed by Ares Capital (ARCC) and then TCW Direct Lending VII, LLC. From the IQ 2020, that debt was placed on non accrual and discounted between (30%) and (42%). [As always, there are sometimes inexplicable variations in valuations between BDCs holding the same debt tranche]. The company had been on the underperformers list since IIIQ 2019 with a CCR 3 rating, but has now leapfrogged to CCR 5, or non performing. The investment forgone to these three BDCs is huge for a credit with a middle of the road pricing of LIBOR + 700 basis points: about $42mn.

We have very few other details to offer so we’ll just wonder aloud at why the largest BDC lender to the company would take such a huge position. The FS Investment II loan represents 5% of that BDC’s total portfolio at cost and the FMV at March 31, 2020 equal to 6% of it’s net assets.

Also notable is that Production Resources Corp tops the BDC Credit Reporter’s list of so-designated Major underperforming companies – those with $100mn or more in outstandings at cost. There are 40 names on what’s we’ll begin to call our Biggest Hitters list and Production Resource Group has the dubious honor of being listed number one. These larger underperformers are important because this relatively small group amidst the 527 companies on the full underperformers list account for more than 40% of all investments at cost and FMV.

That’s all the more reason for us to keep tabs for what happens next at Production Resource Corp and other giant positions which individually can materially affect BDC returns. We expect to hear more no later than when the BDCs involved report second quarter results in the early summer.

Centric Brands Inc.: Files Chapter 11, Restructures.

On May 18, 2020 Centric Brands Inc. announced a major restructuring. This includes the public company going private and a pre-negotiated trip through Chapter 11 bankruptcy. What’s more the company is getting $435mn in Debtor-In-Possession financing to smooth the way forward. $700mn of second lien debt is being written off. The existing first lien lenders – including three BDCs – will be staying on, but will be receiving equity in the new ownership.

Management blames Covid-19 for its troubles. However, back in December 2019 when first wrote about Centric Brands we were skeptical that the company could survive in its then-capital structure where interest expense matched EBITDA. By the time we posted again in April of 2020, the bankruptcy/restructuring die was seemingly cast with only the details to be worked out. Centric was on the BDC Reporter’s Weakest Links list. Like so many other names we’ve placed there, the company now moves to our non performers list until the bankruptcy judge approves this restructuring.

The BDC that will be most impacted in the short term will be Ares Capital (ARCC). At March 31, 2020 ARCC held $24.6mn at cost in Centric Brands public stock, which is now worthless. That will likely result in a ($3.2mn) write-down from the latest valuation and a ($24.6mn) realized loss. Less clear is whether ARCC’s first lien debt ($57.1mn at cost) as well as that of TCW Direct Lending VII and Garrison Capital (GARS) will be getting a haircut. If so, it’s unlikely to be much larger than the (10%) unrealized loss booked at quarter end by ARCC. Income, though, will likely be impacted during the bankruptcy period. We have no idea if accrued interest gets repaid in the new arrangement.

What is likely is that the existing first lien lenders are involved in that very large DIP financing, so BDC exposure – between debt and equity – is likely to increase rather than decrease when all the beans are counted once the restructuring is completed. Moreover, the BDCs relationship with Centric Brands may last a good deal longer now that lenders are becoming part owners. No word yet if any new capital is being injected and by whom.

We are downgrading the company’s credit rating from CCR 4 to CCR 5. After the restructuring occurs – assuming no blips – we will be maintaining the company on our underperformers list. The restructuring does not magically wave away the difficult retail environment Centric is likely to face. Moreover, no news of any new equity capital infusion worries us that the new owners, led by Blackstone, may be undertaking this turnaround too cheaply. Centric Brands would not be the first retail-oriented company that went through Chapter 11 twice… The BDC Credit Reporter will await more details about the transaction and the respective BDCs valuations of their post-recapitalization positions.

We will also be watching how this situation plays out in the context of evaluating how well BDCs like ARCC fare when they transition from lenders to owner-lenders. In this case the BDCs involved appear to have only a minor role to play in the new Centric Brands. Nonetheless, we shall evaluate the age old question of whether this is good money after bad or a masterful way to recoup some, all or more of capital advanced.

Centric Brands Inc.: May File Bankruptcy

According to news reports, Centric Brands Inc. has hired restructuring advisers and is considering a Chapter 11 filing. As always, we know this “from people familiar with the matter”. That’s most likely the borrower, or the borrower’s many professional advisers, whispering down the phone line. Centric designs and manufactures apparel under licensing agreements from brands. A debt load of $1.4bn needs to be restructured. Public shareholders appear to have given up already. The stock trades at $0.77.

The BDC Credit Reporter initiated coverage with a CCR 3 rating back in late December 2019. As you’ll see from a quick reading, we’d reviewed the company’s filings and were already deeply worried before Covid-19 struck. Now a move down to CCR 5 – non performing – status seems all but inevitable. For the moment, we are downgrading Centric to CCR 4, but don’t expect that to be for long.

BDC exposure since we last wrote continues to be “Major”: i.e. over $100mn. At 12/31/2019 there was $123mn invested at cost by three BDCs and an FMV of $113.1mn. Most at risk of loss remains Ares Capital (ARCC) whose $24.6mn invested at cost in the company’s equity is looking fragile. The leading BDC also holds a $57.8mn position in the First Lien 2023 Term Loan, along with TCW Direct and Garrison Capital (GARS). In a bankruptcy we assume there’ll be some kind of debt for equity swap and a haircut will be taken. Judging by year end 2019 valuations from all three BDCs, any loss will be minor as the debt was still valued at par. We remain much more skeptical just by looking at the enterprise value of the business before Covid-19 came along, let alone now.

We will learn more shortly most likely and will come back with a better assessment of what ultimate BDC losses are likely to be.

Pace Industries: Files Chapter 11

The die is cast for Pace Industries. The PE-owned company which manufactures die-cast parts filed Chapter 11 on April 13, 2020. As in so many other situations, the lenders to the business are standing – cheque book in hand – to undertake a debt for equity swap. According to what we’ve learned, the debt holders will get essentially all the equity in the restructured company for forgiving their loans and will commit $175mn for a debtor-in-possession (“DIP”) financing. A de-leveraged and reorganized Pace Industries hopes to be out of bankruptcy and operating normally by May.

This is likely to be a major disappointment for the only BDC with exposure to Pace: TCW Direct Lending. At year end 2019, TCW had $92mn invested in the 2020 Term Loan to the company and had only applied a modest discount. We had a Performing rating of CCR 2. We now have a rating of CCR 5 – Non Performing. That means TCW is not receiving some $8.6mn of investment income. Furthermore, more capital will need to be advanced if TCW participates in the DIP.

Advantage Data’s Syndicated Loan market price modules quotes the 2020 Term Loan trading at 83 cents on the dollar, suggesting a realized loss of nearly ($16mn) is possible, or even more depending on final terms.

As in so many other situations we’re seeing, Pace was in a weakened state even before the Covid-19 situation came along. The supply chain disruptions from the virus were too great for the company to handle, despite closing plants and laying off 70% of its employees. Faced with a liquidity crunch, the company – despite having high profile owners like Antares and Macquarie – had no alternative but to throw in the towel. Pace – in its recast form – will remain on our Under Performers list for the foreseeable future, but the nature of the investment will be radically different and require a much longer timeline till the final outcome of TCW’s investment – which began in 2015 – can be ascertained.

School Specialty, Inc.: Debt For Equity Swap Negotiations Underway

On April 6, 2020 , publicly traded School Specialty Inc. (ticker: SCOO) reported results for the year ended 2019. Sales were down, big losses to the bottom line were recorded for yet another reason. And that was before Covid-19 hit its school supplies business like a ton of bricks. Now the company is throwing up its hands and negotiating a “debt for equity” swap with its lenders, according to the company’s CEO. Here is what was revealed:

With the additional complexities of the COVID-19 situation, our process to address our capital structure is exclusively focused on discussions with our current senior secured lenders.  We have recently executed amendments and forbearance extensions that enable those discussions to continue.  While we do not expect those discussions to result in a transaction that provides meaningful value to our shareholders, we do currently expect we will arrive a transaction that will improve our liquidity position and allow our Company to continue as a going concern.”

The only BDC with exposure at 12/31/2019 was TCW Direct Lending, with $33.8mn invested almost completely in the company’s only senior debt which matures late in 2020 (except for a now small asset-based loan). At year’s end that was valued at a small discount and we carried the company as performing with a Corporate Credit Rating of 2.

All of that has now changed. We’re downgrading School Specialty to CCR 4, and shortly to CCR 5. Only a forbearance agreement is keeping the debt from being non-performing. Remarkably, according to Advantage Data market records, the 2020 term debt is trading at 80 cents on the dollar. A glance at the company’s 10-K makes that questionable, so a bigger loss might be coming once all the dust has settled and the company is restructured. Or liquidated. With school in so many places postponed till the summer or autumn, the company may not be able to recover in any format.

This threatens to be a big hit to income for TCW, especially as some of the debt was priced towards the end at 16.75%. If we’ve calculated right, the BDC might have been booking $4.8mn of annual investment income from this position. In any case, we’ll swivel back if and when a final deal is agreed between the company and its lenders.

Centric Brands Inc: Credit Coverage Initiated

We are initiating our credit coverage of Centric Brands Inc. with a rating of CCR 3, dating back to the IIQ 2019. At that time, Ares Capital (ARCC) discounted the value of its $24.6mn equity stake in the company by (24%), from par in the prior period. Given that the company is publicly traded (ticker: CTRC) that reflects a declining stock price, which was as high as $5.33 a share in mid-March. By the end of June CTRC was at $4.11. As we write this on December 28, 2019, the stock price has halved since the summer to $2.15.

Admittedly, most of the substantial BDC exposure of $123.8mn at cost is in the form of Term debt due in 2023, held by the afore mentioned ARCC, TCW Direct Lending and Garrison Capital (GARS). That debt has been valued very close to par since first being booked and remains so in late December, according to Advantage Data’s records.

Nonetheless, even a quick glance at the company’s 10-Q is enough to elicit credit concern. The company is fast growing, thanks to acquisitions in 2018 and 2019, but debt levels are very high and getting higher. We note that Adjusted EBITDA, as reported in the latest 10-Q for the first 9 months of 2019, was given as $122mn. Interest expense – which admittedly includes Pay-In-Kind income – was $142mn…The ‘comprehensive loss” over the same 9 month period was ($171mn). Yes, we know investors are too clever to take GAAP accounting as the be-all in this brave new world of adjusted numbers but that’s still a lot to swallow.

Notwithstanding the apparent complacency of the debt markets, the BDC Credit Reporter is worried about the leverage levels. Our concern is heightened because the amount of total BDC exposure is so high, especially for ARCC and TCW Direct Lending. Any sort of stumble by the company could materially impact book value and investment income earned. Nor should debt holders take too much comfort from the “first lien senior secured” appellation of the $99mn in term debt held by the BDCs. Sitting above them in order of priority is a secured Revolver – led by ARCC as administrative agent – and many of the company’s trade receivables are being sold off in a different financing facility.

We expect that we’ll be updating readers multiple times in the year ahead given that Centric is a public company and every quarter brings a new snapshot of performance. We’ll also keep an eye on stock and debt price performance, even if we don’t fully trust the credit antennas of the latter in the current frothy and generous market conditions.

Connor Brothers Clover Leaf Seafoods: Files Bankruptcy In Canada

As expected, the Canadian subsidiary of bankrupt Bumble Bee Foods has filed for protection itself under Canadian law. The subsidiary is the long named Connor Brothers Clover Leaf Seafoods, which we’ve written about in the past. On December 2, 2019 trade publication – SeaFoodSource reportedConnors Bros. has commenced court-supervised restructuring proceedings under Canada’s Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act, as has fellow Bumble Bee affiliate Cloverleaf Holdings Company, according to the CBC. The companies operate the Bumble Bee, Clover Leaf, and Brunswick brands in Canada“.

Connors Bros. operates a fish processing plant in Blacks Harbour, New Brunswick in Canada that employs between 400 and 800 people depending on the season and packs a variety of products, including tinned herring and sardines.

The Canadian bankruptcy- which is materially different than the process in the U.S. – is not expected to result in much change operationally or lead to liquidation. That may explain why the 2023 debt issued by Connor Brothers, held by the two BDCs with exposure thereto, is trading at only a (7%) discount to par when we checked Advantage Data’s Middle Markets loan module on December 3, 2019. In total, there is $13.6mn at cost of exposure. Two-thirds is held by non-listed TCW Direct Lending and one third by Apollo Investment (AINV). Both BDCs have modest discounts on the debt held, but will – presumably – be losing approximately $2mn of investment income on an annualized basis until the bankruptcy is resolved. Bumble Bee is reportedly going to be sold. We imagine – but have no confirmation – that Connor Brothers will be included in whatever transaction occurs.

Overall, the Bumble Bee/ Connor Brothers failure is a material blow to both BDCs involved, with over $60mn of exposure and $7.5mn of income interrupted. What we don’t know yet is how long the bankruptcies will go on for – impacting IVQ 2019 results already – and what recovery rates will look like. In theory, the lenders could still collect all principal and interest once the dust settles. Or not.

In any case, we’ve added Connor Brothers to the BDC Credit Reporter’s list of BDC-funded companies in bankruptcy. See in the Data Room.

Bumble Bee Foods: Files Chapter 11

As long expected, Bumble Bee Foods filed for Chapter 11 on November 21, 2019. The BDC Credit Reporter had first reported on the tuna manufacturer’s business and legal woes on July 22, 2019, when we placed Bumble Bee on our CCR 4 (Worry List). On two subsequent occasions we’ve mentioned the prospect of bankruptcy on August 10 and – most recently – on November 19, 2019.

With the filing, we’ve learned that the company has assets and liabilities of as much as $1 billion each, according to court papers. Furthermore “It has arranged an $80 million term loan from its current lenders and a $200 million revolving credit facility to keep operating while in bankruptcy, the documents showed“.

Bumble Bee is in litigation with the Department of Justice and has been pleading poverty to reduce fines owed, according to news reports: “The company flagged its financial distress at the time of sentencing, arguing the $81.5 million fine initially levied could push it into insolvency. The U.S. Department of Justice agreed, cutting the amount to $25 million and giving Bumble Bee an installment plan over several years that required no more than $2 million upfront“. Now that’s a deal.

Most importantly to the company’s lenders, Taiwan-based FCF Fishery has offered $925mn for the company as a “stalking horse” bidder. We don’t have a complete picture of Bumble Bee’s finances, and a full sales process will be required to ensure creditors get top dollar, but it’s an encouraging sign for the two BDCs (Apollo Investment or AINV and TCW Direct Lending) with $48mn lent to the company via its 2023 Term loan. That debt was valued at only a (7%) discount as of September 2019 by AINV. That’s the discount which the traded debt continues to be valued at when we just checked Advantage Data’s records. The FCF proposal “calls for paying down part of Bumble Bee’s existing first-lien debt“, according to the Wall Street Journal. In fact, we might see the lenders getting back 100 cents on the dollar once negotiations are complete. In either case, if the current valuation for Bumble Bee holds and other legal issues are resolved the lenders – notwithstanding this bankruptcy – might dodge a major credit bullet.

Bumble Bee Foods, LLC: Preparing To File Chapter 11

For weeks rumors have swirled around about a soon-to-occur Chapter 11 filing by Bumble Bee Foods, LLC. The latest comes from the Wall Street Journal on November 15, 2019, relying on “unidentified people familiar with the matter” (lawyers ? bankers ? the janitor ?). This may be posturing by one of the parties involved as part of the gamesmanship that comes with the territory. Still, we’ve been warning about bad things likely to happen since July 22, 2019, with a follow-up on July 23. We explicitly reported that a Chapter 11 was likely back in August, and noted BDC exposure at that time.

This time is different only in that the WSJ is a pretty reliable source and we have the IIIQ 2019 BDC exposure numbers to update readers on. TCW Direct Lending has two thirds of the exposure at $32.6mn at cost but has chosen to write the position down only by (3%) at FMV. Apollo Investment (AINV) has $15.2mn, and has marginally increased its fair market discount to (7%). Both lenders are in the publicly traded 2023 Term loan, which trades at that same (7%) discount at time of writing.

It seems like both lenders expect to be able to ride out any bankruptcy or restructuring with minimal damage, and we have no alternative data to suggest otherwise. Still, an interruption of investment income is likely – which may or may not be ultimately recouped. We have added Bumble Bee to our Bankruptcy Imminent List, which we’re now limiting to credits that we expect to take such action in the current (IVQ) quarter. Also, let’s not forget Bumble Bee’s Canadian subsidiary Connor Brothers Clover Leaf Seafoods, where AINV and TCW have an additional exposure at cost of $13.6mn. We’re not sure of the Canadian company would be included in the American parent’s bankruptcy, but it’s worth keeping an eye on to judge full exposure.

School Specialty, Inc: To Explore Strategic Alternatives

Publicly traded School Specialty Inc. announced on October 9, 2019 “has commenced a formal process to explore and evaluate potential strategic alternatives focused on maximizing shareholder value”. Previously, the company had announced the hiring of a financial adviser to assist with re-jigging its financial structure. Now the company aims to review “all options”.

We reviewed the latest quarterly financials, which showed the company generating just $10mn of EBITDA and a net income loss of ($6mn). Debt, though, was very high at close to $200mn, and trade payables are growing as sales are dropping. Trouble clearly lies ahead, and the stock price has dropped to $2.50, down from a high of $17.10 within the last 52 weeks.

This must be worrisome news for the only BDC lender: non-listed TCW Direct Lending, which has a material exposure of $43.1mn, all in the publicly traded 2022 Term Loan, which itself is structurally subordinated to an asset-based loan. At June 2019, TCW had discounted its position by as much as (8%). The current market value of the debt is slightly lower at time of writing. The possibility of an even greater write-down – and some sort of write-off – is growing by the day.

We are downgrading the debt from “performing” – or CCR 2 in our 5 point rating system – to CCR 3. Given the high interest rate being charged (11.4%), the potential loss of income could be high: close to $5.0mn. We get the impression that School Specialty – only now arriving on our under-performer list – may be here for awhile.

Bumble Bee Foods: Bankruptcy Likely

On August 9, 2019 news reports indicated Bumble Bee is seriously considering Chapter 11 to “relieve its financial stress connected to a guilty plea to a government price-fixing charge”. Here are more details, all of which suggest a filing is almost inevitable even if there are supposedly other alternatives on the table: “

Bloomberg reports, citing people familiar with the proceedings, the prospect of a court-supervised restructuring under Chapter 11 is among several options being evaluated, with a sale of the business another possibility. But the people, who asked not to be named, said potential buyers would have to deal with the aftermath of the legal proceedings, which are still ongoing.

Bumble Bee is also facing a cash squeeze, according to Bloomberg’s sources. Class-action lawsuits related to the antitrust case have increased its potential liability, while the company is also encountering claims it mislabelled products as dolphin-safe, they said.

The seafood supplier has also exceeded the maximum leverage ratio allowed under its senior debt facility, a US$650m term loan due in 2023, one of the people told Bloomberg“.

We’ve written about the company and its Canadian subsidiary twice before on July 22 and July 23. With the latest earnings reports, we see Apollo Investment (AINV) – one of two BDC lenders with exposure – has discounted its senior debt position only (7%) from (1%) the quarter before. That seems unrealistically optimistic even if AINV – and the other BDC lender TCW Direct – are in the 2023 first lien debt. Still, we checked the real time price on Advantage Data for that publicly traded loan, which was trading at 92 cents on the dollar.

This is what AINV said on its latest Conference Call, which does not augur well for the 6/30/2019 being as Bad As Its Gets:

“Ryan Patrick Lynch, Keefe, Bruyette, & Woods, Inc., Research Division – MD

 And then you guys’ investment in Bumble Bee. I think that company is about to file for bankruptcy or may have just been announced that they’re going to file for bankruptcy. Just wanted to know, does your 6/30 fair value market — you guys have it marked at about 95% of cost. Is that mark inclusive of if they have to run through bankruptcy?

 Tanner Powell, Apollo Investment Corporation – President & CIO of Apollo Investment Management [38]

 What I’d say there is that is an LCD article that came out today or yesterday. Our valuations are a point in time. The company has had, has experienced issues not only related to tariffs, but also related to historical issues with price fixing and consequent litigation expenses. We are a participant in a broader facility and are working with the borrower to deal with the issues and move things forward. But in terms of the specifics, our valuation is a point in time with the information available to us at the time as of quarter-end”.

Time will tell, but we expect a bigger ultimate Realized Loss is coming.

AINV has $2.0mn of annualized investment income at risk, so even a temporary interruption from a stay in bankruptcy court could impact the BDC. TCW’s exposure is even larger at $42mn and $4.5mn of investment income is involved, but we’ve not seen a June 2019 valuation as yet from the non traded BDC.

Bumble Bee Foods: Further Information About Financial Problems

We first wrote about the troubles at Bumble Bee Foods, LLC just yesterday (July 22, 2019). We added the tuna fisher/processor to our Worry List right away on the news that a turnaround firm had been hired to advise management. That’s never a good sign where credit is concerned. Now we learn from a trade publication that the company has been in ‘”technical default’ since March of 2019 and has breached a “financial covenant” on a $650 million loan. This only validates our decision to move the company – still valued by its two BDC senior lenders at a discount of less than 10% (our typical trigger level) to the Worry List. What we still don’t know is whether the senior debt that the BDCs are involved in can expect full recovery if Bumble Bee does stumble into bankruptcy or an out-of-court restructuring.

Bumble Bee Foods, LLC/Connor Bros Clover Leaf Seafoods : Turnaround Firm Hired. Sale Prospect.

We heard from the Wall Street Journal on July 19, 2019 that famous Bumble Bee Foodshas hired turnaround firm AlixPartners LLP as the seafood purveyor seeks to recover after pleading guilty to fixing prices on canned tuna, according to people familiar with the matter”. In another news report, we also discovered that “Italy’s Bolton Group International is now seen as the frontrunner to acquire Bumble Bee Foods’ Canadian operation.  The company owns “Clover Leaf, Brunswick and Beach Cliff brands”. This process appears to be some way down the road as ‘one source close to the process said Bolton is now exclusive for Clover Leaf, while another told Undercurrent a deal is “close” and could emerge at the end of July or in early August“. We first heard reports of a prospective sale back in April. From a BDC perspective, there are two senior lenders to the U.S. parent and Canadian subsidiary with $61mn of exposure at cost. The BDCs involved are non-traded TCW Direct Lending and Apollo Investment (AINV) in a 2:1 ratio. At 3/31/2019 the debt was valued close to par: TCW had a (7%) discount and AINV (1%). Total income at risk is over $6.5mn. Both BDCs have been invested in the 2023 Term Loan since 2017. We have no idea how serious Bumble Bee’s troubles might be to be impelled to bring on a turnaround specialist, nor is it clear if the valuation from March end is out of date. The 2023 Term Loan, according to Advantage Data’s real-time loan pricing system, is discounted only (3%) at time of writing. Nonetheless, we’re placing Bumble Bee on our Worry List, skipping the Watch List category, moving down from Performing.