In mid-February, Winter Storm Uri brought frigid air across the US from the Pacific Northwest to the Gulf Coast.  Most notably, Winter Storm Uri passed through Texas, resulting in large snowfalls and reducing temperatures to historic levels.  In advance of the storm, plants and utilities responsible for providing vital electricity and natural gas to Texas residents sought to prepare for the extreme conditions—but then, diesel fuel began to gel, generators and turbines froze, and electricity became scarce—leaving many market participants and end-user consumers with astronomical bills for power.  Some entities have since disputed the bills, while others have even declared bankruptcy or indicated the need for future bankruptcy court protection.

Continue Reading Texas Utilities Continue to Deal With Aftermath of Winter Storm Uri: CPS Energy Sues the Electric Reliability Council of Texas Alleging One of the “Largest Illegal Wealth Transfers” in Texas History

Bloomberg reports that HighPoint Resources Corp. received approval for its chapter 11 reorganization plan, clearing the way for its merger with Bonanza Creek Energy Inc. less than one week after filing for bankruptcy protection.  The fully-consensual plan, which carried the support of more than 99% of impaired claimants, deleverages HighPoint’s balance sheet by approximately $625 million vis-à-vis an unsecured debt-for-equity swap and an issuance of new unsecured notes totaling $100 million.  Existing equityholders are even slated to receive 1.6% of the new equity in the combined company.  [Bloomberg; Mar. 18, 2021].

Continue Reading What We’re Reading This Week [March 22, 2021]

Reporting from CNBC indicates that Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, has proposed a $10 billion plan to exit bankruptcy.  According to sources, the exit plan not only includes a significant contribution of more than $4 billion from members of the Sackler family who own the Connecticut-based pharmaceutical giant, but also calls for the pharmaceutical

CEC Entertainment, the parent company of kid-friendly and iconic “dinnertainment” restaurant and arcade chain—Chuck E. Cheese—sought and received Bankruptcy Court approval for three very unique settlement agreements, earlier this year, under which it will pay $2.3 million to three vendors to destroy roughly seven BILLION prize tickets –  i.e.,  enough tickets to fill approximately 65 forty-foot cargo shipping containers.1 The backlog was caused by Chuck E. Cheese placing orders for tickets at pre-COVID utilization rates, the resulting pandemic and rapid fallout in sales, and, most generally, Chuck E. Cheese’s efforts to transition from physical tickets to contactless transactions, like “e-Tickets.”2

Continue Reading The Costs of Destruction: Bankruptcy Court Authorizes Chuck E. Cheese to Spend Millions on Destruction of Prize Tickets

BJ Services, a Texas-based provider of hydraulic fracturing (i.e., “fracking”) and cementing services for upstream oil and gas companies, filed for chapter 11 protection on July 20, 2020, in the US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas, along with three of its affiliates.  Their chapter 11 filings were prompted by unsuccessful restructuring negotiations with one of their equity sponsors—CSL Capital Management—which would have provided a $75 million new money investment, including $30 million in the form of DIP financing, in exchange for the majority of the reorganized equity.  Citing commodity price volatility and an unmanageable capital structure, the debtors have been pursuing an orderly wind-down and confirmation of a chapter 11 liquidation plan, the cornerstone of which was a sale process for six asset packages:  (a) cementing business; (b) fracking business; (c) certain equipment related to the cementing business; (d) certain equipment related to the fracking business; (e) shared lab equipment; and (f) other miscellaneous equipment (e.g., tractors).

Continue Reading BJ Services, LLC, et al.: Not-So-Smooth Sailing for Credit Bidders

Since filing for Chapter 11 in May 2020, Hertz and its major stakeholders have been in negotiations and, at times, disputes over how best to reduce Hertz’s nearly half-a-million vehicle fleet.  These negotiations and disputes have caught the eye of investors in asset-backed securities (“ABS”) and market watchers alike, as the outcome of the case could have rippling effects across the ABS industry and capital markets, generally.

Continue Reading E Pluribus Unum or Ex Uno Plures? Attempted ABS Master Lease Rejection in the Hertz Bankruptcy

Mayer Brown partners Brian Trust, Sean Scott, and Aaron Gavant and associate Kyle Tum Suden discussed the evolving case law surrounding whether companies in bankruptcy are eligible to pursue funding pursuant to the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program in an article available here. For a further discussion of this issue, see prior articles for Mayer