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Pharma Joins Energy, Retail in Restructuring

By Kirk O'Neil | Published on September 28, 2018

Higher oil and natural gas prices are good news for energy companies, but it’s not always enough to prevent many of them from launching restructurings outside of the courtroom.

And shopping mall retailers are still seeking to restructure out of court to avoid filing Chapter 11, even as the holiday season approaches.

Restructuring attorneys and advisers have been right on the money so far this year with their predictions that the energy and retail sectors would be the most active for out-of-court restructurings in the second half of 2018. Their prediction that pharmaceutical companies would seek out-of-court restructuring was also accurate as several took steps to avoid bankruptcy in the third quarter.

Energy companies were busy in the third quarter exploring their restructuring options to avert expensive Chapter 11 filings.

Notable energy company out-of-court restructurings in September included PetroQuest Energy Inc. evaluating its capital structure alternatives, Legacy Reserves LP (LGCY) completing a swap deal on bond debt and Northern Oil & Gas Inc. seeking to refinance first-lien debt with a new $425 million senior secured revolver.

Azure Midstream Energy LLC in August refinanced its $565 million credit facility with new first-lien and second-lien debt. The new debt amounts were not disclosed. Ultra Resources Inc. in August considered seeking waivers of financial covenants.

Bellatrix Exploration Ltd. (BXE) in July launched a debt swap, Comstock Resources Inc. (CRK) refinanced notes and Vanguard Natural Resources Inc. amended its revolving credit facility.

Retailers in regional malls will continue to struggle with reduced foot traffic and consumers purchasing more products from online retailers led by Inc. (AMZN).

Women’s apparel retailer Talbots Inc. in September was working on refinancing its $360 million first-lien loan.

Sears Holdings Corp. (SHLD) investor ESL Investments Inc. and CEO Eddie Lampert in September sought sales of unencumbered real estate and debt swaps to reduce the retailer’s debt by about $1.2 billion.

Private-equity backed retailer Neiman Marcus Group Inc. may soon be looking to restructure $4.71 billion in debt.

Pharmaceutical companies also began restructurings out of court in the third quarter. Among them were MusclePharm Corp. that in September considered a debt swap.

OvaScience Inc. was seeking a merger in August with Millendo Therapeutics Inc. to avoid filing Chapter 11. Novelion Therapeutics Inc. (NVLN) worked on a debt restructuring in August.

Restructuring advisers expect a number of distress factors affecting retailers, oil and gas companies and pharmaceutical companies to prompt these industries to continue to seek out-of-court restructurings through the remainder of the year.


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