Pace Industries: IQ 2021 Update

Pace Industries – an aluminum, zinc and magnesium die casting company – entered into and exited Chapter 11 bankruptcy last year. How the private company is performing since the exit is unclear. We do know that the company sold a 22,000 office building in Arkansas recently and is said to be re-locating its HQ to suburban Detroit where it has existing space. For our two prior articles about the company, click here.

There is only one BDC with exposure : TCW Direct Lending. A review of the valuation of the $133.3mn advanced by the BDC to Pace does not clarify the picture. TCW has increased its exposure from $96mn at cost – all in senior debt, just before the bankruptcy. Now, TCW has “doubled down” and has $133mn invested in first lien, subordinated debt and equity. The equity is written to zero, the subordinated debt is discounted only (7%) – BUT is carried as non performing – and the first lien debt is valued at par.

This is a Major exposure for TCW given the amounts involved. At first, when the company exited bankruptcy we upgraded its rating from CCR 5 to CCR 3 but are now returning to CCR 5 – i.e. non performing – given that the subordinated debt is on non accrual. By the way, the senior debt is paying a sub-market rate of 3.5% – all paid in kind. This all seems to suggest – despite the generous debt valuations – that Pace is not out of the woods yet. Given that TCW’s total exposure is equal to more than a fifth of its capital this should be a worry to its manager and shareholders. To date – from what we can tell – the BDC has not booked any realized loss on this investment and much could yet go wrong.

Direct Travel Inc.: IQ 2021 Update

As you might expect a company with a name like “Direct Travel Inc.” – “a leading provider of corporate travel management services” – has been impacted by the pandemic. Apparently – according to a brief mention on a BDC’s conference call – the company was restructured in October 2020 with term loans due 12/1/2021 being extended to 10/1/2023, and re-priced to allow most interest to be paid in PIK. Furthermore, lenders took a majority percentage of the company’s equity as well. At March 31, 2021, total BDC exposure was $105.4mn, and the FMV $83.2. In this second quarter after the restructuring the valuations were unchanged from IVQ 2020.

There are two BDCs involved with Direct Travel: Bain Capital Specialty Finance (BCSF) and TCG BDC (CGBD). The former has two-thirds of the exposure mentioned above, and the latter the rest. Of the pre-restructuring debt, CGBD is more “conservative” in its valuation at (20%), while BCSF applies a (30%) haircut. More importantly, CGBD carries its legacy debt as non performing while BCSF does not.

Our policy in these situations is to rate the company with the most “conservative” approach – or CCR 5 in this case, which has been the case since IIQ 2020. (As recently as IVQ 2019, the company was carried as “performing”).

How is Direct Travel Inc. doing under its new owners and with a new capital structure that includes new debt ? From the public record, we can’t really tell. Common sense – and the number of people we’ve seen rubbed elbows on planes with recently – would suggest that business should be improving. If so, the BDCs involved might well benefit above and beyond getting repaid on their loans if their equity gets “in the money”. However, we’re getting ahead of ourselves and will need to see what future valuations might look like before any upgrade is possible.

Ansira Holdings: IQ 2021 Update

We don’t fully understand what’s happening at marketing company Ansira Holdings, although two public BDCs – Bain Capital Specialty Finance (BCSF) and New Mountain Finance (NMFC) – have first lien debt outstanding, along with one non-traded player – Audax Credit BDC. (Total BDC exposure is $86.4mn – some in delayed draw debt and some in Revolver and some in unitranche). We do know, though, that some BDCs started writing down their debt by more than (10%) in IVQ 2019 and that rose to as much as (28%) in IQ 2020. At that point, the maturity of the debt was extended from June 2022 to June 2024, presumably related to the impact of the pandemic.

As of the IQ 2021, the debt is discounted just over a fifth by the BDCs involved (except for BCSF’s Revolver, which is valued at par – which may have different collateral or repayment rights). The BDC Credit Reporter has rated the company CCR 4 out of an abundance of caution and because we know so little about a company which has been underperforming for 6 quarters. (Neither NMFC or BCSF have provided any update on their conference calls). Total investment income involved is $6.5mn, with BCSF with the biggest share, followed by NMFC.

Ansira Holdings has a moneyed sponsor – Advent International – and market conditions must be improving. Also, the debt valuations have been stable since the maturity extension. So it’s possible we’ll be in a position to upgrade the credit rating in future periods. However, we cannot discern any specific catalyst for a change in the short term , so we’re not adding Ansira to the Trending list, and will just continue to track the privately-owned company’s progress as best we can.

Dynamic Product Tankers: IQ 2021 Update

We’ve written twice before about Dynamic Product Tankers, a company owned 85% by Apollo Investment (AINV), which is also a junior lender. The last time was in November 28, 2020 when the $22mn in subordinated debt on the books was valued at par and the $49.8mn at cost in equity was valued at $27.1mn. Jump forward two quarters and the cost remains the same; the subordinated debt is still valued at par and the equity has a slightly lower value – $25.5mn. We rated the company CCR 4.

AINV has not said anything about what’s happening to this shipping investment in some time so there is no news to report. However, the fundamentals of the sector have been improving with the uptick in business activity and this might benefit the company. We’ll find out more when IIQ 2021 results are published. Dynamic is being added to the Trending list because odds are good we might see a material change in value.

In any case, with $1.2mn in annual investment income (a below market 5.31% yield) and a current FMV equal to nearly 5% of the BDC’s net assets, this is an important asset for AINV. This is the second largest underperforming company by value on the BDC’s books as of March 31, 2021. As we’ve seen with other troubled investments of long standing held by AINV, this seemed like an almost certain eventual loss till this year. That might yet be the case, but there’s also a possibility that the BDC – which has been invested in the business since 2015 – might get some or all its $50mn invested back.

Spotted Hawk Development: IQ 2021 Update

We’ve written about Apollo Investment’s (AINV) long standing and ill fated investment in Spotted Hawk Development (aka SHD Oil & Gas) twice before. The last time – back on November 27, 2020 – we noted that two of the three debt tranches AINV has advanced were on non accrual and the FMV of the $115mn invested was only $42.3mn, based on IIIQ 2020 results.

Six months later – and going off the IQ 2021 AINV results – not much has changed. Total exposure at cost remains the same and two of the debt facilities remain on non accrual. The FMV is $35.4mn. (However, that valuation is slightly better than in the IVQ 2020 when the FMV was $32.4mn, the lowest ever. Maybe the increase in the price of oil has begun to revive Spotted Hawk’s value, if only on paper.

Back on May 20, 2021 AINV’s management had the following, vaguely encouraging, update to offer on the company:

Sort of now that oil prices have picked up, and there’s some sense of — there’s some — visibility is too strong a word. There’s some possibility of sort of constructive transactions. We’re going to be as aggressive as we can there to sort of exit that, but we don’t have anything”.

We continue to rate the oil and gas explorer as CCR 5 – given the two non accruals. However, we have the investment on our Trending List because there’s a strong possibility – with $70+ oil and much enthusiasm about everything in the markets these days – that the value of the business might be improving and its cash flows – potentially – increasing. Furthermore, we’re sure that if anyone shows any interest in AINV’s 38% interest in the company, they’ll find a receptive seller. This may yet be an almost complete write-off when AINV finally creates some resolution, but there’s a chance the BDC might do better than one might have expected just a few months ago. Of course, these things change very quickly in any commodity industry.

SIMR, LLC: IQ 2021 Update

We’ve not written about SIMR, LLC (aka STATinMED Research) before but the life sciences data company has been underperforming since IIIQ 2019, when we first noted a drop in the equity valuation of the BDCs that held those positions. The situation got worse in 2020 with first lien debt discounted by increasing percentages and the equity written to zero. At IQ 2021, the debt was discounted (10%)-(15%) by the two BDCs with a position: Capital Southwest (CSWC) and non-traded Cion Investment. Overall, BDC exposure at cost was $45.4mn and FMV $27.1mn.

That FMV versus cost alone is cause for concern. However, we also note that back in 2019 the lenders ramped up pricing from LIBOR + 9.00% to LIBOR + 17.00% plus a 2.00% floor ! That’s an all-in rate of nearly 20% and a sure sign that all is not well. For CSWC, that’s a worrying $2.6mn of annual investment income at risk if SIMR should default and even more at Cion: $3.4mn.

We do not know what’s gone wrong at SIMR – which was acquired in 2018 by Ancor Capital Partners. CSWC has been mum about the situation and Cion does not hold conference calls. The public record has provided no clues. We have rated the company CCR 4, but have not added the name to our Trending List as the valuation has been stable of late, and there is no obvious catalyst for a change in value or income in the IIQ 2021 results. However, given the high amount of income at risk (equal – for CSWC – to 8.2% of its FY 2021 Net Investment Income), this is a company whose fortunes are worth tracking regularly.

Glacier Oil & Gas: IQ 2021 Update

We last wrote about Glacier Oil & Gas back on August 18, 2020 shortly after Apollo Investment (AINV) placed its debt on non accrual. At the time the BDC had invested $67mn at cost in the Alaskan oil & gas company and valued its investment at $14.7mn. Not much has changed in the interim. The debt remains on non accrual and the value of the BDC’s investment has been reduced somewhat to $8.1mn. That’s unchanged from the IVQ 2020 value.

With no income being generated, and little in the way of remaining value, we were tempted to categorize Glacier as non material and not bother with providing a written update. (This is a long standing “legacy investment” of Apollo that was previously known as Miller Energy, and which was restructured back in 2016 with no success). However, with the price of oil above $70 hope springs eternal that the company may escape its CCR 5 (non performing) status.

Unfortunately AINV has not discussed the company since April 2020, so we don’t have any updates to offer. The BDC does own 47% of Glacier’s equity, as well as holding that non accruing debt and could well benefit if the economics of the industry finally turn in its favor. We’re not taking anything for granted, but are adding the company to our Trending List because the value of Glacier may increase when the IIQ 2021 results are published. In the past, we’ve assumed the final value of Apollo’s misguided foray into oil and gas investing might be zero once AINV finally settles its account. At least now there is a glimmer of hope for AINV – and its long suffering shareholders – that some recovery might be possible. We’ll provide an update after the IIQ 2021 AINV results are published.

Maxus Carbon: IQ 2021 Update

With Apollo Investment’s (AINV) IQ 2021 filings, we can provide our fifth update on Maxus Carbon (aka Carbonfree Chemicals). The BDC valued the now all equity investment with a cost of $77.8mn at $25.4mn. That’s essentially unchanged from the prior two quarters and since AINV’s debt to the business was converted into equity.

The valuation might suggest that nothing much – good or bad – is happening at Maxus Carbon but what was said on the May 20, 2021 AINV conference call suggests otherwise. Here is what was said by AINV’s CEO Howard Widra:

[Maxus Carbon] has some really good developments there. And that’s an all equity debt investment that had been converted to our equity. But that’s all equity and is a carbon-efficient business that has a lot of demand, obviously, where the world is going right now. And so, we hope that over the next year can have some real significant positive things happen to it”.

We can’t tell if the above is something specific getting underway or just hopeful comments from the BDC. It’s about time something happened at Maxus Carbon – on the books since 2013, and non-income producing since IIIQ 2020.

We are retaining our CCR 4 rating and not adding Maxus to our Trending List given the unchanged nature of the recent valuations and the vague nature of management’s status update. In the current environment, though, where capital is loose, it’s not impossible that SOMETHING might happen of a positive nature where this long standing “zombie” investment is concerned. That’s at variance with our earlier thoughts that the most likely resolution would be a write-off of the project and a complete loss. At this stage, both good news or bad news are equally likely.

Merx Aviation: IQ 2021 Update

Apollo Investment (AINV) has reported its full year and fiscal IVQ 2021 results through March 31, 2021. To management’s credit, much was said about the BDC’s largest investment – aircraft lessor and maintenance company Merx Aviation Finance LLC. We’ve written about Merx before on three occasions. The BDC Credit Reporter has been skeptical of the – let’s say – “generous” valuations AINV has placed on its debt and equity investments in Merx, despite the severe impact of the pandemic on flying and the value of aircraft and their leases. Both in the IVQ 2020 and in the IQ 2021 results, AINV has increased the value of its investment in Merx after a modest unrealized write-down earlier in 2020. As of now, the $190.5mn of first lien debt is carried at par, as was the case before the pandemic. The value of the now $120.3mn in equity is given as $125.1mn, up $0.5mn in the period.

On the latest conference call AINV sought to explain how Merx could be re-leasing planes at lower rates than before the pandemic or having to sell them off and still see an increase in the value of the equity stake. (Previously the BDC pointed to increases in their aircraft maintenance activities for its higher valuation, but this was not mentioned in the most recent conference call). Much as we’d like to, we don’t follow how AINV maintains such a high equity valuation despite the undeniably tough conditions. We rate the company CCR 4 despite the fact that AINV values its overall investment modestly over cost. However, we encourage readers to review the conference call transcript and decide for themselves.

With all that said, industry trends seem to be on the mend for Merx and total capital at risk – thanks to a large principal repayment – has dropped from $321mn as of March 2020 to $311mn a year later. The debt is performing at a 10% yield (down from 12% previously). The equity is non-income producing. The overall annual return on assets invested – both debt and equity – is 6.4% versus something closer to 15% pre-Covid when the loan yield was higher and dividends were being paid. AINV’s management does not envisage a return to those halcyon days but hopes for a ROA somewhere in-between.

This is very much a work in progress, but if industry conditions improve as expected, AINV should be able to avoid any further reduction in its debt yield from Merx. Once securitizations of aircraft are sufficiently paid down – which are senior to where AINV sits – we may even see a resumption of some dividend payouts. However, we cannot estimate when that might occur. We are maintaining our CCR 4 rating till we get more substantive good news and the credit remains Trending because we would not be surprised to see values and income change materially again – probably for the better – in IIQ 2021.

Even if AINV extricates itself from Merx without a realized loss (even though the loss of investment income has been substantial in recent quarters), the question remains why a BDC supposedly committed to portfolio diversification would invest 30% of its capital (using the IQ 2021 numbers) in a single company ?

Instituto De Banca Y Comercio Inc: IVQ 2020 Status

Instituto De Banca Y Comercio is a trade school for bank personnel in Puerto Rico, which we’ve been tracking for years. The only BDC with exposure is Ares Capital (ARCC), dating back to 2007 when the for-profit business was bought out by a PE group: Leeds Equity Partners. At one point, ARCC held a position via its joint venture with GE Capital but bought back its position – following some complex accounting – in 2016 when the company was non performing and the BDC was breaking up with its JV partner. At the end of 2020, this now 13 year relationship consisted of total exposure of $121mn in the form of debt and preferred, with a FMV of $32.3mn. $17.3mn in first lien debt is accruing at 10.5%, and there is $103.7mn in preferred. We’re not sure if ARCC is booking any income on the preferred, which only has a value of $15.0mn.

We don’t know how the business is performing but the valuation trend is unchanged between IVQ and IIIQ 2020. ARCC does not mention the company much anymore since the buyout of the GE position from the JV in 2016. Understandably, given the near ($90mn) written down already, the BDC Reporter has a CCR 4 rating on the company. Should the debt go on non accrual ARCC would forgo ($1.8mn) of annual interest income. A full realized loss of the preferred would reduce net assets by ($15.0mn). These are sizeable numbers but not especially material for a BDC of ARCC’s size.

We have no reason to believe anything is going to happen soon as the debt is not due till 2022, and the public record is bare on any details on how the company is performing, so we don’t have Instituto as Trending, but it is a Major exposure being over $100mn at cost. We’ll check back periodically to see how outstandings and valuations change on this “zombie” investment that just keeps going and going without much in the way of resolution. ARCC has extended the debt at least 4 times since 2007.

NPC International Inc: Company Sold

The long and winding road for NPC International Inc. appears to be reaching a final resolution. The franchisee of hundreds of fast food locations, which filed for bankruptcy back on July 1, 2020 has inked a $801mn deal to sell its assets to two different buyers. The company is likely to exit bankruptcy shortly. We won’t get into all the details or the history of the company’s failure, but refer readers to our five earlier articles.

For the only BDC with exposure –Bain Capital Specialty Finance (BCSF) – this will mean a final tallying up. As of June 2020, the BDC had $14.5mn showing in first and second lien debt to the company, which had been on non-accrual since IVQ 2019. As of September 2020, only the first lien debt shows up in BCSF’s investment list, suggesting a realized loss of ($9.2mn) has already been booked. We can’t be 100% certain as the BDC does not name names when these losses occur.

BCSF had $5.3mn at cost and $4.3mn at FMV left outstanding – all in first lien debt – as of September 2020. We believe – in the absence of harder numbers – that’s a pretty good picture of what to expect going forward in terms of proceeds to be received, all of which may show up in the IQ 2021 results. If we’re right, BCSF will have lost two-thirds of the maximum funds advanced to NPC, a relationship that began IQ 2017.

This transaction is close enough to its resolution for the BDC Credit Reporter to mention – again – that the restaurant business is a very difficult one for lenders. We searched our own archives with the word “restaurant” and were reminded of the large number of casualties we’ve seen over the years, even before Covid-19 raised the stakes further. The sector should probably be added to oil & gas exploration; energy services and brick and mortar retail as segments that BDCs – and their shareholders – should treat with extreme caution.

We undertook a search of Advantage Data’s database of all BDC investments and found 59 different restaurant-related companies listed. The BDC Credit Reporter’s own database shows 14 different restaurant companies underperforming. That’s a very rough way to assess such things but a quarter of all restaurant names in some sort of trouble seems high to us. Food for thought. Pun intended.

AMP Solar Group: Carlyle To Invest In Company

Here’s a mystery for you. What are the implications of the announcement that Carlyle Group is making a $374mn investment commitment to AMP Solar Group ? As Carlyle’s press release says, the company :

…”is a global renewable energy infrastructure manager, developer and owner. Since 2009, the Company has successfully developed over 1.8 gigawatts of distributed and utility-scale renewable generation projects, hybrid generation plus storage projects, and stand-alone battery storage projects around the world. Amp Energy’s proprietary digital energy platform, Amp X, also provides a diverse portfolio of disruptive and interoperable solutions, including a state-of-the-art smart transformer, that enable real-time autonomous management and optimized dispatch of all forms of distributed generation and loads across the grid. The Carlyle investment will help catalyze the continued rapid growth of both Amp’s asset base and Amp X within its core markets of North America, Japan, Australia, Iberia and the UK.

Apollo Investment (AINV) has $10mn invested in equity in AMP Solar (owns 6.6%) and $13.2mn in a UK subsidiary, which goes by the name AMP Solar Group UK or Solarplicity. The former investment is valued at a (14%) discount to cost while the latter is valued at only $0.17 on the dollar. The debt and the preferred on the UK company is on non accrual so the entire $23.2mn which AINV has invested at cost is non-income producing.

We don’t know if Carlyle’s involvement validates the multi-year investment in AMP Solar and we will see either a sale of the BDC’s position to them or an increase in the business valuation. Maybe the debt to the UK operation – never very profitable as the yield was fixed at 4% – will return ? We just don’t know but hope to learn more from AINV when IVQ 2020 results are published and discussed in February 2021.

Maxus Carbon: Debt For Equity Swap

This is the fourth article we’ve written about Maxus Carbon’s, Apollo Investment’s (AINV) poorly performing project finance for a chemical plant that has been around for 7 years. Click here for the prior articles and to get caught up. After placing remaining debt on non accrual in the IIQ 2020, the BDC in the IIIQ 2020 has quietly restructured its position in the company. Again. We say “quietly” because management made no mention of the conversion of the $30.4mn in first lien debt – albeit non performing – into equity on its IIIQ 2020 conference call transcript. This removed Maxus from AINV’s long list of companies on non accrual but – arguably – further weakened the BDC’s position on the company’s balance sheet, which is now all equity for $77.9mn at cost. Of course, no income is being received.

AINV valued some of its earlier equity at $24.9mn at FMV and the just converted debt at zero. Counter-intutively, the latest valuation is slightly higher than last quarter, which was for $22.6mn. At this point AINV has written down 69% of invested capital and has no income coming in. When this investment started out AINV made a $60mn loan and charged 13%. That’s ($7.8mn) of annual income lost along the way.

We are “upgrading” Maxus from CCR 5 to CCR 4 because technically no longer non performing. Still, at best this is a lateral move.

Based on the ever lower valuation and the debt to equity conversion, the BDC Credit Reporter does not hold up much hope and would not be surprised if AINV – one day – would write off the entire project. The current FMV of the investment would amount to about 2.5% of net assets as of September 2020.

As always we are at the mercy of AINV in terms of updates on the chemical plant’s progress. We’ll provide the latest disclosure next quarter of what remains – even with two thirds of the value written down – a material “Legacy” investment for the BDC and an almost certain dud once the final bill comes due.

Protect America Inc: Updated Company File

With Stellus Capital’s (SCM) IIIQ 2020 results just published , we have updated security company Protect America Inc.’s Company File, and added to the BDC Credit Reporter’s credit commentary. Spoiler alert: No progress here and odds look good that the BDC will eventually have to write off all its second lien debt position. The rating is CCR 5 and has been for multiple quarters.

C2 Educational Systems: Valuation Update

Saratoga Investment (SAR) has just reported quarterly results one month ahead of the BDC pack, which has provided a number of updates on where underperforming companies stand, based on valuations as of August 2020. This includes C2 Educational Systems – which was added to the underperformers list as of the IIQ 2020 by SAR – its only BDC lender – and downgraded from CCR 2 to CCR 3 by the BDC Credit Reporter.

As of August 2020, SAR’s valuation remains essentially unchanged with a (19%) discount to cost applied. SAR – as usual – had little to say about any specifics. Research in the public record, though, shows that the company received a significant PPP loan in April, which should have helped the business. We also expect that C2 – which is in the face to face business of tutoring K-12th grade students – is also making necessary changes to its business model by increasing the emphasis on “virtual tutoring”. The business was performing normally – based on SAR’s valuations at the time – before Covid-19 and should be a survivor. The involvement of lower middle market group PE group Serent Capital as owner is also a plus, even though we don’t know if any new capital has been added or will be.

We are maintaining our CCR 3 rating on the company and do not currently expect a loss of any kind down the road. SAR has $16.0mn invested in first lien debt at cost. Should the company return to performing status SAR could book a $3.0mn increase in value.

We’ll continue to track the company’s valuation quarterly via SAR and report back to our readers.

Roli, Ltd: IIQ 2020 Update

On August 6, 2020, TriplePoint Venture Growth (TPVG) offered up an update on troubled portfolio company Roli, Ltd on its IIQ 2020 conference call:

We have one company rated 4 on our watch list, Roli, a music technology company. During the quarter, we further marked down our loans on Roli, reflecting the impact of COVID on some of our recovery assumptions associated with the ongoing turnaround of the company. Here in Q3, the company has made good progress, and we expect to see some favorable trends over the next couple of quarters“.

The BDC Reporter wrote the following in its review of TPVG’s Conference Call where Roli was discussed: “TPVG has advanced $29mn to Roli Ltd, which has been on non accrual since IIQ 2019. The current value is just $15.0mn. By the way, just before Roli became non performing, the debt and equity outstanding was valued almost at par” The company is rated CCR 5 and we expect the ultimate outcome is likely to be some sort of realized loss, but concede that – except for these occasional updates from the lender – we have little inside information about the company’s fortunes.

I-45 SLF LLC : IIQ 2020 Update

The “I-45 SLF LLC” is a joint venture set up between two public BDCs that have a history of working together: Main Street Capital (MAIN) and Capital Southwest (CSWC). The JV dates back to 2015 and was rated as performing through the end of 2019. However, the BDC Credit Reporter first downgraded the entity to CCR 3 in the IVQ 2019 as multiple portfolio companies experienced credit problems. The situation was only exacerbated by the pandemic and the rating was dropped to CCR 4 in IQ 2020, as the discount on the BDC’s junior capital in the entity reached (43%). In the second quarter 2020 the valuation increased modestly – along with market loan values. Nonetheless, we are retaining the CCR 4 rating.

In the most recent quarter income from the JV paid out to its sponsors was reduced due to the precipitous drop in LIBOR only marginally offset by the 80 basis point average “LIBOR floors”. Furthermore, MAIN and CSWC injected additional equity capital in the quarter while the JV’s lender reduced its debt commitment, as mentioned in CSWC’s 10-Q: “On April 30, 2020, the I-45 credit facility was amended to permanently reduce the I-45 credit facility amount through a prepayment of $15.0 million and to change the minimum utilization requirements”. 

A quick look down the portfolio list of I-45 SLF shows that several troubled companies already on CSWC and MAIN’s own books are here as well. We’ve reviewed the entire portfolio and identified several underperformers and noted that cost to FMV is only 85%, even after loan values generally increased in the June 2020 quarter. We’re pretty sure the BDC partners will not be getting back in full the capital deployed whenever the JV is eventually closed down. At this stage we expect the eventual realized loss will be ($15mn-$20mn), split 80/20 between CSWC and MAIN. In the interim, though, the JV should continue to pay out a dividend, so we’re not adding the name to the Weakest Links list.

American Teleconferencing Services: IIQ 2020 Update

Now that IIQ 2020 BDC results have been released, we can confirm that American Teleconferencing Services – a wholly owned subsidiary of communications company Premiere Global Services – remains rated CCR 4. We’re guided mostly by the latest valuations from multiple BDCs with first lien and second lien exposure. The former is discounted by wildly varying percentages : (6%) to (35%). The latter has been nearly cut by half in value. Moody’s has given the company a Caa2 rating as recently as August . The ratings group had this to say:

“The debt restructuring in October 2019, surge in audioconferencing volumes and virtual events during the pandemic and sponsor’s equity contributions have improved the liquidity position but it is uncertain how the business will perform when the crisis abates. The rating additionally considers execution risks in plans to cross-sell services and operate under shared services agreements with TPx Communications, which was acquired in February 2020 by affiliates of Siris Capital, which also owns the parent company of American Teleconferencing Services.”

There does not seem any reason to add the company to the Weakest Links list yet but the business has some considerable way to go before lenders are out of the woods in what is a Major position in aggregate: $109.4mn at cost and $88.8mn at FMV. Most at risk – but with modest exposure – is Capital Southwest (CSWC) with $2.1mn in the second lien, which is valued at $1.1mn. The outlook is favorable in the short run, as Moody’s suggests but the company will need monitoring.

Deluxe Entertainment: Portion Of Business Sold

According to news reports, Deluxe Entertainment has sold most of its business divisions to Platinum Equity. (Deluxe Entertainment’s creative businesses are not included in the acquisition. They will remain operational, but drop the “Deluxe Entertainment” name). Financial terms were not disclosed.

As we’ve written about extensively, Deluxe Entertainment has been owned by its lenders since a debt-for-equity swap and a trip to bankruptcy court last year. Then, Covid-19 wreaked havoc on the entertainment sector starting in March 2020 with unknown, but likely harsh, consequences for the company. As a result, there is no assurance that the new owners of parts of Deluxe Entertainment received much in proceeds from the sale. Furthermore, what happens to the remaining and re-named divisions is unclear.

There are two BDCs with exposure to the post-bankruptcy company: Harvest Capital (HCAP) and non-traded Cion Investment, each in very different parts of the capital structure. HCAP already booked a ($2.4mn) realized loss back in 2019 when the company was restructured and now holds $0.5mn in a second lien Term Loan and $2.1mn in equity (0.63% of the company’s equity). We’re guessing any proceeds will be modest. Cion Investment has much more capital at risk: $24mn in First Lien debt and $9.9mn in the second lien Term debt. And no equity.

We’ll learn more about how this sale trickles down to the two BDCs involved when IIQ 2020 results are known. The BDC Credit Reporter’s best guess, though, is that this experiment in lenders owning an entertainment business in Los Angeles will shortly be over. Notwithstanding the sale, we expect further realized losses are likely.

We are downgrading Deluxe Entertainment from a Corporate Credit Rating of 3 to CCR 4, as we expect some sort of realized loss to be realized. More details to eventually follow.