Californian wildfires liabilities push PG&E toward Chapter 11

BY Fraser Tennant

The devastation wrought by wildfires in California is pushing energy company Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) Corporation to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy as it faces liabilities estimated at $30bn.

In 2017 and 2018, fires destroyed vast areas of Northern California and claimed the lives of 44 and 86 people respectively.

During the Chapter 11 process, PG&E expects to resolve its liabilities resulting from the 2017 and 2018 wildfires and will assure access to the capital and resources needed to continue to provide a safe service to its customers.

Furthermore, the company has stated that it does not expect any impact to its customers’ electric or natural gas service and remains committed to assisting the communities affected by the wildfires.

Earlier this week, Geisha Williams, PG&E's chief executive since March 2017, resigned.  

"The people affected by the devastating wildfires are our customers, our neighbours and our friends, and we understand the profound impact the fires have had on our communities and the need for PG&E to continue enhancing our wildfire mitigation efforts,” said John R. Simon, interim chief executive at PG&E Corporation. “We remain committed to helping them through the recovery and rebuilding process. We believe a court-supervised process under Chapter 11 will best enable PG&E to resolve its potential liabilities in an orderly, fair and expeditious fashion.”  

PG&E has engaged in discussions with potential lenders with respect to debtor-in-possession (DIP) financing and expects to have approximately $5.5bn of committed DIP financing by the time it files for relief under Chapter 11 on or about 29 January 2019. The DIP financing will provide PG&E with sufficient liquidity to fund its ongoing operations, including its ability to provide a safe service to its customers.

Richard C. Kelly, chair of the board of directors of PG&E Corporation, concluded: “Our goal will be to work collaboratively to fairly balance the interests of our many constituents – including wildfire victims, customers, employees, creditors, shareholders, the financial community and business partners – while creating a sustainable foundation for the delivery of safe service to our customers in the years ahead.”

News: PG&E talking to banks on multibillion dollar bankruptcy financing

Parker Drilling announces RSA and Chapter 11 to reduce debt and obtain capital

BY Fraser Tennant

Another victim of the ongoing volatility across the sector, oilfield services provider Parker Drilling Company has entered into a restructuring support agreement (RSA) in a bid to reduce its spiralling debt and obtain access to capital commitments.

To implement the terms of the RSA, Parker has voluntarily filed for Chapter 11 protection. The company’s non-US subsidiaries and certain US subsidiaries are excluded from the filing and will not be affected by the process. Furthermore, Parker intends to seek confirmation of a prearranged plan of reorganisation, for which consenting stakeholders have indicated their support.

Parker’s proposed plan, which is subject to court approval, reduces approximately two-thirds of funded debt and injects $95m of new, fully committed equity capital through a backstopped rights offering. It also contemplates the issuance of a new $210m loan.

In addition, Parker anticipates that its cash flow and existing liquidity will be sufficient to support global operations during the bankruptcy and restructuring process, and has further augmented liquidity with access to $50m in debtor-in-possession (DIP) financing. The lenders under the DIP financing have also committed to fund an exit facility of $50m.

“The steps we are announcing will ensure that we have the appropriate capital structure to take advantage of these opportunities to strategically grow our assets, our global footprint, and our suite of products and services," said Gary Rich, chairman, president and chief executive of Parker Drilling. "We are confident that by resolving our legacy balance sheet issues, we will be able to continue executing a strategy to build greater scale in core markets and expand strategic offerings, while strengthening our drilling and rental tools businesses.”

Parker’s existing customer and vendor contracts are expected to remain in place and be serviced in the ordinary course of business during the bankruptcy and restructuring process. Employee wages and benefits, as well as trade creditors, will be paid in full in the ordinary course of business.

A provider of drilling services and rental tools to the energy industry, Parker serves operators in the inland waters of the US Gulf of Mexico and in select US and international markets.

Mr Rich concluded: “I am confident that the strength of our complementary business lines, combined with a solid financial platform, will position Parker to lead the industry as market conditions improve."

The company has stated that it expects to emerge from bankruptcy protection early in 2019.

News: Parker Drilling files for pre-arranged Chapter 11 reorganization

Helicopter-leasing company Waypoint files for Chapter 11

BY Fraser Tennant

The latest casualty of depressed global oil and gas prices, Ireland-based helicopter leasing company Waypoint Leasing Holdings Ltd has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in New York and plans to restructure.

Waypoint, along with certain of its subsidiaries, expects to proceed to move through the restructuring process as quickly as possible, and is committed to working with its lenders and stakeholders toward a speedy and successful transformation of the company.

The world’s largest independent helicopter leasing company, Waypoint’s portfolio includes approximately 160 aircraft with a market value of $1.6bn. The company is backed by entities controlled by billionaire investors George Soros and Michael Dell.

“Waypoint’s Chapter 11 filing is the next step in our holistic transformation strategy and will provide us with the opportunity to emerge with a stronger, sustainable and more competitive balance sheet,” said Hooman Yazhari, chief executive of Waypoint. “It will further catalyse our ability to implement many of the innovative and evolutionary changes to our business model, allowing us to meet head-on the challenges and opportunities which our displaced industry presents.”

Over the past six months, Waypoint has been actively working with its lenders to de-lever its balance sheet and reposition for strength and stability. The company also plans to continue that work during the Chapter 11 process and, in addition to de-levering, will continue to implement strategic initiatives.

“During our continued transformation, our team will work as hard as possible to demonstrate Waypoint’s true value as the most dedicated and capable steward of our assets,” Mr Yazhari continued. “We will also continue our intense focus to deliver on the needs and requirements of our customers.”

Waypoint also stated that it would use the Chapter 11 process to facilitate the acquisition of Waypoint by a new owner, with a continued focus on its customers.

Mr Yazhari concluded: “I am incredibly grateful for our supportive stakeholders, including our global customer base, original equipment manufacturers and maintenance, repair and operating suppliers, other partners and our talented team of employees.”

Established in 2013, Waypoint’s fleet is supported by over 40 employees based in eight offices worldwide. In addition to Ireland, Waypoint has offices in London, the US, Canada, Hong Kong, Brazil and South Africa.

News: Helicopter Company Backed by Soros, Dell Flies into Chapter 11

Gastar Exploration files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

BY Fraser Tennant

Struggling financially due to the slump in oil prices seen in the past few years, energy company Gastar Exploration has taken stock and entered into a restructuring support agreement (RSA) to be implemented via a pre-packaged Chapter 11 bankruptcy plan of reorganisation.

Houston-based Gastar has filed for bankruptcy with the support of its largest creditor and shareholder, private equity firm Ares Management LLC. While the RSA and Chapter 11 filing will clear more than $300m of Gastar’s debt, as well as provide $100m in new financing to fund the restructuring process and ongoing business operations, controlling ownership will cede to Ares.

Trading of Gastar’s common stock was suspended by the New York Stock Exchange in September due to the company’s low trading price.

“The restructuring agreement is a comprehensive plan that will ensure Gastar remains competitive in its industry,” said Jerry R. Schuyler, interim chief executive and board chairman of Gastar. “We can now set our sights on facilitating a smooth, efficient in-court restructuring while continuing to meet our obligations to our employee and vendor constituencies. I am proud of the exceptional hard work and dedication of all our employees throughout this process."

The agreed restructuring was developed following numerous attempts to find strategic alternatives – including selling the company – that would have allowed Gastar to avoid a bankruptcy filing.

Serving as Gastar’s legal counsel is Kirkland & Ellis LLP, with Opportune LLP serving as restructuring adviser. Perella Weinberg Partners LP is serving as financial adviser.

Subject to approval of the plan of reorganisation by the Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas and the satisfaction of certain conditions, Gastar expects to emerge from Chapter 11 before the end of 2018. 

News: New restructuring deal for Gastar will support prepackaged bankruptcy


Another US retailer on the ropes as Sears files for bankruptcy

BY Fraser Tennant

In a further body blow to the US retail industry, Sears Holdings Corporation has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection – yet another retail giant struggling with mounting debt and the increasing shift in consumer behaviour toward shopping online.

Through the Chapter 11 process, Sears – which also owns Kmart – and certain of its subsidiaries are seeking to establish a sustainable capital structure, continue streamlining its operating model and grow profitably for the long term. The company listed more than $10bn in debts and more than $1bn in assets in its filing.

The company hopes to move through the restructuring process as smoothly and expeditiously as possible, and is committed to pursuing a plan of reorganisation as it continues negotiations with major stakeholders.

“The Chapter 11 process will give Sears the flexibility to strengthen its balance sheet, enabling the company to accelerate its strategic transformation, continue right sizing its operating model and return to profitability,” said Edward S. Lampert, chairman of Sears Holdings. “Our goal is to achieve a comprehensive restructuring as efficiently as possible, working closely with our creditors and other debtholders, and be better positioned to execute on our strategy and key priorities."

To this end, Sears intends to continue paying employee wages and benefits, honour member programmes, and pay vendors and suppliers in the ordinary course for all goods and services provided on or after the Chapter 11 filing date.

"Over the last several years, we have worked hard to transform our business and unlock the value of our assets," said Mr Lampert. "While we have made progress, the plan has yet to deliver the results we have desired, and addressing the company's immediate liquidity needs has impacted our efforts to become a profitable and more competitive retailer.”

Sears has received commitments for $300m in senior priming debtor-in-possession (DIP) financing from its senior secured asset-based revolving lenders, and is negotiating a $300m subordinated DIP financing with ESL Investments, Inc – its largest stockholder and creditor.

Subject to court approval, the DIP financing is expected to improve Sears’ financial position immediately and support its operations during the financial restructuring process.

Mr Lampert concluded: "As we look toward the holiday season, Sears and Kmart stores remain open for business and our dedicated associates look forward to serving our members and customers. We thank our vendors for their continuing support through the upcoming season and beyond.”

News: US retail giant Sears files for bankruptcy

©2001-2019 Financier Worldwide Ltd. All rights reserved.