From Perennial (Rumored) LBO Candidate To Imminent Restructuring: How The Unmighty Radioshack Has FallenSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 07/11/2013 14:13 -0400
There was a time when one couldn't spend an hour without some moronic rumor of a Radioshack LBO popping up. Those time are gone. Instead, as DebtWire reports, the rumor of a takeover has been replaced with the all too unpleasant reality of a corporate restructuring which may or may not end up in Chapter and which likely means the equity is all but wiped out. As DW reports the firm is set to listen to restructuring pitches from the usual restructuring suspects, which means unless someone is crazy enough to do another JCP-type deal (they aren't), the firm's debt is about to be substantially discharged. This usually means a full or at least partial wipe out of the equity tranche below it. "The move to hire a banker to explore a balance sheet fix comes as the struggling electronics retailer faces a string of maturities, escalating cash burn and bloated inventory levels, the sources said. RadioShack first engaged AlixPartners for operational help over a year ago, as previously reported by Debtwire."
Housing is recovering. The Fed has your back. The consumer is healthy. All things that would suggest the commercial-mortgage bond business should be on the cusp of a renaissance. So the question is - what did Brett Ersoff and John Herman see, seven short days after being promoted to run the UBS real-estate finance division, that made them depart the venerable Swiss firm with the paintball sized Stamford trading floor?
Wondering why PCX is plummeting, and slowly taking the entire energy complex lower? It is due to the following report from DebtWire as of last night, and reposted this morning.
It took FT Alphaville offshoot FT Tilt precisely 9 months to learn that charging £1,000 a head for widely available information may not be the best business model (unless one is that "other" and probably only profitable FT business line DebtWire, which actually does have "expert network" level information now and then). One wonders just how successful some other financial blogs would be if they were spun off from their publicly traded corporate parents.
Europe Imploding (Again) Following Another Ugly Italian Bond Auction, WSJ Article Discussing French Bank NationalizationSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 09/13/2011 07:18 -0400
Despite another round of unsubstantiated rumormongering by the FT yesterday (more on this in a second), investors in this morning's critical round of Italian bond issuance were nonplussed and demanded 10 pounds of flash with every bond, which in turn sent 5 year BTP yields to the highest since the introduction of the zEURo. If the purpose of the planted Debtwire/FT story was to make this auction attractive, one can only conclude that it failed. The result is yet another"Europe is Open" type market session, where everything is tumbling on Greek default and contagion fear, further stoked by a front-page WSJ story which says what we have been warning about every single day for the past 3 weeks (those pretty Libor charts that go from the lower left to the upper right are not just there to make the place pretty): namely that banks, in this case French mega institution BNP, no longer have access to dollar funding markets. The result: yet another increase in the actual 3M USD Libor rate, nearly the 40th day in a row, which in turn makes the dollar lock out even more painful. From the WSJ: ""We can no longer borrow dollars. U.S. money-market funds are not lending to us anymore," a bank executive for BNP Paribas, who declines to be named, told me last week. "Since we don't have access to dollars anymore, we're creating a market in euros. This is a first. . . . we hope it will work, otherwise the downward spiral will be hell. We will no longer be trusted at all and no one will lend to us anymore. He's not the only one worried. Société Générale has lost 22.5% of its value since the beginning of the summer. In early September, BNP released a statement—in English, which is highly unusual—explaining that it has abundant dollar liquidity and that BNP has nothing to worry about, unlike other banks. France's three biggest banks have been the subject of whisper campaigns about their solvency throughout the summer." It gets worse: "Now that the situation is bordering on catastrophe, analysts are suggesting that the government is set to start nationalizing France's banks. The banks have remained silent on the matter, and the government denies this talk." Well, whatever good will the FT tried to create with its rumors,the WSJ destroyed with its facts.
As anyone who follows the restructuring process (and religiously reads debtwire) will tell you, the first sign of smoke is when a creditor retain legal bankruptcy counsel, promptly followed by financial, which in turn, or at least 95% of the time, leads to a dropping off of bankruptcy docs at the local bankruptcy court, or Southern New York. And where there's smoke, there's Alabama fire. According to blog al.com, the Jefferson County Commission has just retained the services (at $975/hour) of Ken Klee, of LA-based Klee Tuchin, best known for advising Orange County on its Chapter 9 filing back in 1994. And with this the probability that Jefferson County will conclude that the time to file its own Chapter 9 in two days, is virtually a certainty (and sorry, no bankruptcy lawyer will advise his clients not to file for bankruptcy. Hourly retainer, remember?). And with the US debt situation still unlikely to be resolved within 48 hours, the last thing the market needs is to worry not only what known on effects this mega-municipal bankruptcy case will end up generating, but who else will file after. That said, we are confident the market will surge even more as it digests these news. Why? Two words: Bernanke Put.
Adding insult upon injury...
Is PIMCO The Fed's "Agent Provocateur" In Scuttling Billions In Legal Putback Claims Against JP Morgan And Bank Of America?Submitted by Tyler Durden on 02/28/2011 20:44 -0400
Perhaps it is time for JP Morgan to revise its estimate for putback liability claims. As a reminder back in October, it was none other than JP Morgan which said: "We estimate putback risk to be approximately $23-$35bn for agency mortgages, $40-80bn in non-agency and roughly $20-30bn for second liens and HELOCs. However, there are a number of reasons why these estimates are on the high end, including losses already taken and loss reserves established." Well, there appear to be a number of reasons of why these estimates may have been on the very low end as well, the first one being that the bank itself just announced "it faces up to $4.5 billion in legal losses, in excess of its established litigation reserves, should its worst-case legal scenario occur." And if JP Morgan is seeing billion more in putback exposure, then what should Bank of Countrywide Lynch say, which just reported that the amount of debt which is being put against the firm for fraud of various types has just doubled from $46 billion to $84 billion. Luckily, according to a DebtWire report, PIMCO and BlackRock are actively doing the Fed's bidding in attempting to form a splinter group within the putback litigants and to settle with BofA for a nominal charge. Will the Fed be once again successful at subverting justice?
With pervasive shooting across Libya, stoppage of oil production, and overall revolutionary activity, it makes sense to take a look at the biggest holdings of some of the key Libyan investment players. We start with the country's Sovereign Wealth Fund, the Libyan Investment Authority. We find some interesting names...
All those focusing on the politburo policy tool known as stocks have missed what is by far the biggest mover in corporate (distressed) land so far in 2011. MBIA, whose CDS had traded in 2010 at levels assuming virtually no recovery, have plunged from 55 points up front a fortnight ago to just 37 up today (a 4 pt tightening today alone), a pick up that could make many a distressed credit fund's (sorry Oaktree) quarter. And while the move has been stunning in its velocity, many have been left scratching their heads as to the reason why. Enter Protium: a Barclays 2009 spin off fund which according to the British bank's results posted yesterday, entered into a CDS commutation with an unnamed monoline effective January 2011. And since it was already known by the market that banks such as JPM and Barclays had dropped lawsuits against MBIA in 2010 in exchange for comparable CDS commutations, it was immediately assumed that the beneficiary of this generous 'Protean' gift is none other than MBIA. The net result? A boost to creditor recoveries, a surge in unsecured claim prices, and a near 20 point tightening in CDS.
While everyone has been focusing on American institutions over the past several months looking for entities that may have claims on Bank of America and other domestic banks which have misrepresented their mortgage portfolios, a question that nobody is asking is why are European, and specifically German banks, not joining the fray? After all, when it came to finding idiot investors, Goldman et al's rolodex would always immediately jump to those in the Ruhr and Rhine valleys. And sure enough, as many German (Landes)banks ended up on the receiving end of Wall Street innovation, and thus bankrupt, it has been shocking that very little initiative has been demonstrated by German investors who lost most or all of their capital when subject banks ended up purchasing misrepresented securities. All this may be changing soon (see below). But even if it isn't, a key question is just what leverage does America have over Germany to prevent the country from pursuing rightful putback demands against the mortgage banks. Our guess: those lovely FX lines from Benny and the Inkjets. After all recall that the Swiss tax disclosure was the quid pro quo in exchange for the unlimited Fed credit facility to the SNB when the country was on the verge, and when UBS needed a bad bank to make sure the Swiss giant survived.
Stunning that anyone in this environment can file for Chapter 11. But that is precisely what is happening: supermarket chain A&P, with law firm Kirkland and Ellis and financial advisor Moelis in tow, is about to file for bankruptcy, Bloomberg reports. It is ironic that instead of passing through costs supermarkets are instead opting out to default. Nonetheless, this is likely telling on the status of food margins at major supermarkets.
A very interesting research paper currently in publication by a team from York University headed by Nadia Massoud asks "Do Hedge Funds Trade on Private Information? Evidence from Syndicated Lending and Short-Selling" and analyzes whether or not hedge funds actively trade in the public securities of companies that had approached said hedge funds with private, capital structure specific (in this case loan syndication and amendment) information. The paper focuses on the period between 2005 and 2007, when the first wave of second- and third-lien debt that had been issued by crappy companies to hedge funds, was starting to become impaired and led to wave after wave of covenant and other bank loan amendments, designed to allow the borrower some breathing room. Massoud also tracks whether or not in the days preceding the public announcement of a covenant amendment, traditionally seen as a sign of weakness by any borrower company, there was a spike in short-selling activity by hedge funds, courtesy of an interval between January 2nd 2005 to July 6th 2007, when RegSHO had made public extensive detail on equity short-selling data (why this is no longer the case one has to ask the corrupt SEC, but that is a question for after the next 10,000 point Dow flash crash when the SEC's headquarters will finally be surrounded by rioting former investors who have had enough). The paper finds conclusive evidence that companies that come to lenders in hopes of amending syndicated credit facilities do indeed see aggressive shorting of their stock into the days preceding the formal announcement, implying that there is obviously material non-public information abuse and frontrunning. Here, the authors of the paper however, make a blatantly wrong assumption that this frontrunning originates almost exclusively from within the hedge funds that had been approached with the material non-public disclosure of weakness. We are happy to demonstrate that not only is that not necessarily the case, but to explain why certain sections of FT holding company Pearson can charge over $100,000 a year for premium subscription to their content by rich hedge fund subscribers, thereby once again creating a very tiered information market. We speak of course of Pearson niche media subsidiary www.debtwire.com
In what will likely be the first major municipal bankruptcy of the New Normal, Harrisburg is likely about to shut the gates. In an interview conducted with restructuring site Debtwire, the City's controller Dan Miller said Harrisburg would be better off filing for Chapter 9 than trying to restructuring finances under Act 47, the Financially Distressed Municipalities Act. He added that the latter has never solver the problems of any municipality that entered the program and the institution of a commuter tax in Harrisburg to avoid a Chapter 9 would be unworkable. On the other hands, "when reached for comment, long-time opponent of a Chapter 9 filing for the city, PA governor Ed Rendell said Harrisburg officials have not given him any indication that they will seek Chapter 9 protection. Rendell said he hopes that the city "will either sell assets or seek Act 47" before making a Chapter 9 filing." Alas, it appears the nearly bankrupt city has run out of options.
EuroWeek magazine reports that Greece has hired Lazard in an advisory capacity: it is not a stretch to assume that this is in connection with a potential, and some say inevitable, bankruptcy... unless the country is really serious about procuring a stalking horse distressed M&A bidder for Santorini. We also note that DebtWire has yet to report on this development: looks like the FT is really starting to slip. It would not be a stretch to see why Greece and Lazard are on good terms: after Greece basically put all banks on the kleptocrata non grata list, the pseudo-French company seems like a legitimated candidate (not to mention that France will fail first should Greece default). Additionally, in March 2009 the firm advised the Hellenic Government on the sale of various Olympic Airlines assets to Marfin. Lazard is also no stranger to sovereign reorg, having worked with Nicaragua, Ecuador and Cote d'Ivoire on various restructuring assignments. However, while those deals were a walk in the park, Jim Millstein and and new (and critical) addition Felix Rohatyn will find Greece, where 80% of the population does not want a bailout and in fact is rooting for a default, a much tougher nut to crack.