Credit Crunch Fuels 48-Hour Bankruptcy Rush With Seven Filings
(Bloomberg) -- At least seven large companies filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in less than 48 hours, a breakneck pace of restructurings that included once-hot digital-broadcaster Vice Media LLC and KKR & Co.-backed Envision Healthcare Corp.
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That’s the largest number of filings on record during a two-day period since at least 2008, according to Bloomberg-compiled data on companies with at least $50 million of liabilities. And it comes as two Federal Reserve officials signaled that they favor a pause in their aggressive monetary-tightening campaign amid the ongoing fallout in credit markets.
Firms across every sector are struggling with higher interest costs — making it more challenging to refinance loans and bonds — while corporate executives are drawing more scrutiny from investors and creditors.
The weekend also saw filings from home security company Monitronics International Inc., chemical producer Venator Materials Plc, oil producer Cox Operating LLC, fire protection firm Kidde-Fenwal Inc. and biotechnology company Athenex Inc.
For Vice Media, the filing marks a dramatic fall from its status as a media darling. The company secured a $450 million investment from private equity firm TPG in 2017, which valued the firm at $5.7 billion — a startling figure for a newcomer. Journalism has been an easy target for advertisers’ cost-cutting plans in an uncertain economy.
For others, like Venator and Monitronics, the breaking point came amid looming debt maturities in the next few years.
Here are more details on the wave of recent filings:
Vice listed both assets and liabilities in the range of more than $500 million to as much as $1 billion in a Chapter 11 petition filed in Southern District of New York. The company struck a deal to sell itself to creditors including Fortress Investment Group, Soros Fund Management and Monroe Capital. The deal, which will see the investors purchasing its assets for $225 million and assume significant liabilities, allows for rival bidders to emerge.
Monitronics, which had more than $1 billion in debt coming due in 2024, said earlier this month that it planned to start a Chapter 11 bankruptcy to help implement its restructuring. The company said it would cut its debt by $500 million under the pre-arranged and partially prepackaged plan.
The Dallas-based firm previously filed for bankruptcy back in 2019, with a plan that gave control to creditors and allowed it to slash close to $1 billion in debt. The company listed $1 billion to $10 billion in estimated assets and the same range for liabilities in its petition filed in the Southern District of Texas.
Envision, a medical staffing company backed by KKR, had been in talks about restructuring options after it skipped a bond coupon payment due in mid-April.
The company raised more than $1 billion in fresh cash just last year, but it has still been struggling to make good on its debt obligations in the face of a higher interest burden and wage inflation. It filed in the Southern District of Texas, listing both assets and liabilities in the range of $1 billion to $10 billion.
Pigment maker Venator’s upcoming debt maturities included a roughly $350 million first-lien term loan due in August 2024 and around $600 million of notes due in 2025. In February, the company commented on challenging macroeconomic conditions, and said it had reduced spending and planned to cut inventory. It listed both assets and liabilities in the range of more than $1 billion to $10 billion in a petition filed in Southern Texas.
Cox, a closely held oil producer, had been attempting to reach an agreement with its creditors on reducing or deferring payments to avert filing for bankruptcy, people familiar with knowledge had told Bloomberg earlier this month. The company has estimated liabilities and assets of $100 million to $500 million each, it said in a filing.
Pharmaceutical company Athenex said it had reached agreement with its lenders to move forward with an expedited sales process of its assets across its primary businesses, which is expected to conclude by July 1. The company has $100 to $500 million in estimated liabilities. In a statement, the company blamed regulatory hurdles tied to a new drug, along with “challenging biotech markets and the difficult economic environment” for its downfall.
Industrial fire protection and suppression company Kidde-Fenwal said it will seek options including a sale of the company as a going concern. The company has $1 billion to $10 billion in estimated liabilities, and filed after mounting litigation related to “forever chemicals.” A unit of the company sold firefighting foam containing the chemicals from 2007 to 2013 and has been named in more than 4,000 lawsuits, according to a statement.
--With assistance from Paula Seligson.
(Updates with additional details throughout.)
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