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BDC Credit Confidential: Week Ended July 26, 2019

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Over at our sister publication – the BDC Credit Reporter – we had a busy week. Highlights include a new name for the BDC Portfolio Company Bankruptcy List that occurred at the beginning of July but which came to our attention only last week. There are 20 companies and $0.54bn at cost still in bankruptcy of one form or another. We have added two more companies – including a famous retailer – to our Worry List after news stories suggested potential serious credit problems ahead. There are now 57 companies (on our Worry List with an aggregate cost of $2.4bn of exposure at cost.  There are also 48 companies on our less urgent but still worrisome Watch List, with a total cost just under $2.0bn.  Expect those numbers to continue to grow in all categories as our coverage of the 3,000 company BDC portfolio company becomes ever more comprehensive. However, there was some good news this week, as two related entities – both held only by MVC Capital – were removed from the under-performing category. With earnings season beginning, we expect much chopping and changing to ensue in BDC credit, and as we continue to fill in the gaps in our database of portfolio companies. 


Joerns HealthCare: Files Chapter 11
July 3, 2019: Joerns Healthcare has filed for Chapter 11. “The company is seeking court approval of a restructuring plan that is supported by the majority of its lenders and noteholders. The plan will eliminate a substantial amount of debt and provide operating capital during the restructuring process and beyond. The company has requested that the plan be approved and the process complete within the next 30-45 days”. This is bad news for the three BDCs with $27.9mn in exposure in 2020 senior/unitranche debt – all publicly traded. Main Street Capital (MAIN) has the biggest share with $13.3mn, and sister non traded fund HMS Income ($11.0mn). Golub Capital (GBDC) comes in third with only $3.5mn, but we imagine the asset manager has exposure in other affiliated funds. Until a restructuring falls into place $0.200mn a month of interest income will be lost. The company was still carried as performing through IIIQ 2018, but the discount increased from the IVQ 2018 and closed the IQ 2019 at (15%).  Chances look high that a Realized Loss will have to be booked, but we’ll postpone making any predictions till we review the restructuring plan that the company is so confident will be approved and implemented in short order.

Bumble Bee Foods, LLC/Connor Bros Clover Leaf Seafoods : Turnaround Firm Hired. Sale Prospect.
July 22, 2019: We heard from the Wall Street Journal on July 19, 2019 that famous Bumble Bee Foods “has 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 Lendingand 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.
Bumble Fee Foods: Further Information
July 23, 2019: We first wrote about the troubles at Bumble Bee Foods, LLCjust 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.

Crius Energy: Acquired By Vistra Energy

July 23, 2019: On July 15, 2019 publicly traded “integrated energy company” Vistra Energy (VST) announced – by way of a press release – the successful acquisition of Crius Energy Trust, also a public entity traded on a Canadian exchange. The deal had been contemplated since February and sweetened along the way. Here are highlights from the press release:

As a result of the closing today, Crius Energy unitholders are entitled to receive C$8.80 per trust unit upon the redemption of such units. In addition, Crius Energy unitholders that were holders of record on March 26, 2019 will receive C$0.209 per unit for the distribution previously declared by Crius Energy on Jan. 16, 2019. The combination of these amounts results in total cash payable to Crius Energy unitholders of C$9.009 per unit. Crius Energy expects that the distribution of C$0.209per unit will be payable today, with the transaction consideration of C$8.80 payable within three business days of today’s date. The units of Crius Energy are expected to be delisted from the Toronto Stock Exchange as of the close of markets on July 17, 2019, and Crius Energy is expected to be wound-up following the redemption of the trust units on July 18, 2019.

This is good news for the only BDC with exposure to Crius Energy: MVC Capital (MVC). A couple of years ago MVC sold its largest portfolio company – US Gas & Electric (USGE) – to Crius in return for units in the Trust. Moreover, MVC has a $37.5mn second lien debt position, yielding 9.5%, in USGE’s debt, held by a subsidiary. Admittedly, thanks to the dropping value of the Crius Energy trust units that occurred in the quarters preceding the buy-out offer – and which caused us to place the investment on our under-performing list  – MVC will not receive back all its $25.9mn investment, as per the latest filing. (When interest is added to the principal balance received, the return is positive). However, Realized Loss likely to be booked in the  fiscal quarter ended July 2019 should be modest: under $5mn by our estimate, and there may even be a write up on an unrealized basis, by comparison with the $21.3mn FMV valuation at the of April 2019.  The USGE debt remains on the books, assumed by the new owner. However, the creditworthiness of Vistra is much greater than that of Crius, which allows us to return USGE’s debt to Performing status. All in all, a positive outcome for MVC (which is likely to be repaid in full by Vistra before long) on a credit that was headed south fast. Just before Vistra stepped in with its checkbook , the Crius trust units had been written down (49%) on the BDC’s books on an unrealized basis.


J.C. Penney: Financial Picture Update

July 23, 2019: Another famous retailer – J.C. Penney – has been back in the news since Reuters announced on July 18, 2019 the hiring of restructuring advisors. We added the retailer to our Worry List on the news. Now Motley Fool has provided a useful summary of the company’s financial condition. Here are highlights: “

“As of the end of last quarter, J.C. Penney had $3.9 billion of debt, plus another $1.2 billion of lease liabilities. Meanwhile, the company’s adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) has plunged in recent years due to strategic missteps and tough business conditions. This has driven J.C. Penney’s leverage to unsustainable levels. Adjusted EBITDA totaled $568 million in fiscal 2018 — down from $1 billion in fiscal 2016 — putting J.C. Penney’s leverage ratio at more than seven times EBITDA. For comparison, most investment-grade companies have debt that is no more than three times EBITDA”.

The real problem is looming farther out. J.C. Penney has about $2.5 billion of secured debt that will mature between 2023 and 2025. It also has $1.2 billion of unsecured debt maturing between 2036 and 2097. J.C. Penney needs to whittle down the principal balance of this debt while ensuring that it can extend the maturities of what remains.

J.C. Penney’s unsecured debt maturing in 2036 and beyond currently trades for between $0.23 and $0.26 on the dollar. Even some of its lower-priority secured debt trades for less than $0.50 on the dollar. Thus, the market is already factoring in a substantial likelihood that creditors won’t be repaid in full. This should motivate them to cooperate with the company’s efforts to restructure its debt. It might even make sense to write off some of the principal if J.C. Penney can offer more collateral in exchange (and perhaps some equity warrants to reward creditors if the company manages to turn itself around).

From a BDC perspective, the exposure is modest at $3.3mn,  and spread over three FS KKR non-traded BDCs: FSIC II, FSIC III and FSIC IV in two different loans/notes, one maturing in 2020 and another in 2023. We expect lower valuations will be applied in future quarters than as of 3/31/2019 when FMV was close to par, but the impact on individual BDC balance sheets and income statements, even if Chapter 11 does eventually occur, should be modest.

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