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Staples Wraps $1B High Yield Bond Offering Backing Sycamore LBO

Staples has completed a $1 billion offering of eight-year notes at the wide end of talk, sources said. Bank of America Merrill Lynch was lead on a bookrunner group that included 10 additional banks. Proceeds will be used to back the issuer’s $6.9 billion buyout by Sycamore Partners. The transaction was downsized from $1.3 billion. A concurrent first-lien term loan also backing the LBO transaction was increased by $200 million, to $2.9 billion. There has also been a $100 million decrease in funded debt, sources said. Prior to launching, the borrower had planned for $1.6 billion of the bonds, but steered $300 million to the TLB to meet investor demand. A $1.2 billion ABL facility will also be put in place to back the LBO. The buyout is expected to close in 2017. Terms:

Issuer Staples (Arch Merger Sub Inc)
Ratings B–/B3
Amount $1 billion
Issue Senior (144A/Reg S-for-life)
Coupon 8.5%
Price 100
Yield 8.5%
Spread T+637
Maturity Sept. 15, 2025
Call non-call three (first call at par + 50% of coupon)
Trade Aug. 14, 2017
Settle Aug. 28, 2017 (T+10)
Joint bookrunners BAML/UBS/DB/CS/RBC/JEFF/FifthThird/GS/C/KKR/ Natixis
Price talk 8.25% area
Notes Downsized from $1.3 billion; up to 40% equity claw @ 108.5 until Sept. 15, 2020; change-of-control put @ 101; make-whole @ T+50

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Staples Readies $1.3B High Yield Bond Offering Backing LBO by Sycamore

staplesStaples is on the cusp of kicking off roadshows for $1.3 billion of eight-year (non-call three) notes backing the buyout of the company by Sycamore Partners. An investor call and lunch is scheduled for tomorrow, Aug. 10 at 12:30 p.m. EDT. Pricing is expected next Monday.

Joint bookrunners on the deal are Bank of America Merrill Lynch, UBS, Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, RBC Capital Markets, Jefferies, Fifth Third, Goldman Sachs, Citi, KKR Capital Markets, and Natixis. The debt is being shopped with a first call at par plus 50% coupon and an up to 40% equity claw for the first three years. Issuance will come under Rule 144/Reg S-for-life.

S&P Global Ratings on Aug. 8 downgraded for the borrower’s corporate rating to B+, from BBB–. It has assigned a B–, with a 6 recovery rating, to the notes.

Similarly, that same day Moody’s lowered its unsecured rating for Staples to B3, from Baa2, and assigned a B1 corporate rating to the company.

The move from both agencies was triggered by Sycamore’s leveraged buyout of the company.

Meanwhile, the borrower today upsized a first-lien term loan by $300 million, to $2.7 billion. The same amount was removed from the notes offering, which was originally expected to be a $1.6 billion issue. A $1.2 billion ABL facility will also be put in place.

At closing of the acquisition, there will be an internal reorganization whereby the U.S. retail, Canadian retail, and the North American delivery businesses of Staples will be separated into standalone entities. The $5.2 billion debt package is for the financing of the North American delivery segment, which will leverage the business on a pro forma basis at approximately 4x, sources note. The transaction is expected to close in 2017.

Staples (Nasdaq: SPLS) in June disclosed that Sycamore would acquire the company in a $6.9 billion transaction. Under the terms of the agreement, Staples’ stockholders will receive $10.25 per share. — Staff reports

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Rackspace Tapping High Yield Bond Market for $1.2B Backing Apollo LBO

Rackspace Hosting’s pitch for $1.2 billion of eight-year (non-call three) notes backing the company’s upcoming buyout has hit the market via lead bookrunner Deutsche Bank, sources said. Roadshows will run Oct. 17–24, with pricing scheduled for Oct. 25, sources added.

Additional bookrunners for the 144A-for-life offering are Citi, Barclays, RBC Capital Markets, and Credit Suisse. The notes are structured with a first call at par plus 75% of the finalized coupon, and an up to 40% equity clawback at par plus coupon for the initial three years. Ratings are B+/B3/BB-.

The proceeds are earmarked to help finance the $4.4 billion leveraged buyout of the company by Apollo Global Management. A Citi-led $2 billion, seven-year, covenant-lite B term loan, talked at L+425 with a 1% LIBOR floor, is also backing the transaction.

Rackspace made its debut in the high-yield market last September when the company printed $500 million of 6.5% notes due 2024 for general corporate purposes and to repay debt. These notes will be refinanced as part of the buyout.

San Antonio, Texas–based Rackspace (NYSE: RAX) provides cloud computing and information-technology solutions. The company has a market cap of $4 billion, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. — Jakema Lewis/Jon Hemingway

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5-Hour Energy Scraps Financing Deal after Sale of company Falls Through

Arrangers for Innovation Ventures, the maker of 5-Hour Energy drinks, pulled the company’s two-pronged financing package this morning after the sale to Renew Group Private fell apart.

5 Hour Energy logoThe financing package included a $525 million senior secured loan and a $400 million senior note issue that had been circulating the market, according to sources. Proceeds would have backed Renew Group’s purchase and refinanced outstanding bonds.

Innovation Ventures is still evaluating plans that would allow it to refinance its debt, the company stated this morning in a press release.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch and KeyBanc Capital Markets were arranging the loan and had set price talk of L+450, with a 1% LIBOR floor and a 99 offer price on a $500 million term loan.

S&P Global Ratings rated the issuer B+ and the first-lien debt BB, with a 1 recovery rating. The proposed bonds drew B–, with a 6 recovery rating.

As reported, Farmington Hills, Mich.–based Innovation Ventures is 80% directly or indirectly owned by CEO Manoj Bhargava, who would have sold a roughly 80% stake through a trust. — Kelsey Butler

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Diamond Resorts Launches $600M High Yield Bond Offering Backing Apollo LBO

Diamond Resorts is offering $600 million of eight-year (non-call three) unsecured notes, sources say. Bookrunners on the deal are RBC Capital Markets (left), Barclays, and Jefferies.

A roadshow for the offering will run Aug. 1–4, sources noted. The proceeds will be used to back Apollo Management’s $2.2 billion purchase of Diamond Resorts. Apollo in late June agreed to acquire the company for $30.25 per share. At the time the deal was announced, the company said closing was expected over the next few months.

Take note, the issuer is also shopping a $1.2 billion seven-year term loan B and a $100 million revolver to fund the buyout. Price talk for the loan has been set at L+500, with a 1% LIBOR floor and a 99 offer price.

Expected ratings for the notes are CCC+/Caa1. On July 25, S&P Global Ratings lowered its corporate credit rating for Diamond Resorts to B from B+, noting the incremental leverage and the company’s financial sponsor ownership.

Diamond Resorts International operates a network of more than 420 vacation destinations located in 35 countries throughout the continental U.S., Hawaii, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, South America, Central America, Europe, Asia, Australasia, and Africa. — Staff reports

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How did ACAS become a takeover target? Answer’s in the portfolio mix

How did American Capital become a takeover target? The answer lies in the lender’s equity-heavy, low-yielding investment portfolio mix.

Ares Capital, which trades on the Nasdaq under the ticker ARCC, announced on May 23 it would buy American Capital in a $3.4 billion deal, excluding the company’s mortgage management businesses. American Capital trades on the Nasdaq as ACAS.

One of American Capital’s strategies was its trademarked One Stop Buyout, where it could invest in debt ranging from senior to junior, as well as preferred and common stock, acquiring control of an operating company through a transaction.

However, the accumulation of equity did not allow the company to maintain the steady dividend growth that investors had grown to rely on.

In November 2008, the company stopped paying dividends and began evaluating them quarterly to better manage volatile markets. At the same time, American Capital announced an expansion into European middle market investing through the acquisition of European Capital. Also that year, American Capital opened an office in Hong Kong, its first office in Asia.

The news of the dividend policy change triggered a plunge in American Capital shares. Shares have persistently traded below book value since.

At its peak, the One Stop Buyout strategy accounted for 65% of American Capital’s portfolio. It has since slashed this to under 20% of the portfolio, of which less than half of that amount is equity. It continues to sell off assets.

In a reflection of the change in investment mix, S&P Global Ratings placed Ares Capital BBB issuer, senior unsecured, and senior secured credit ratings on CreditWatch negative, as a result of the cash and stock acquisition plan.

“The CreditWatch placement reflects our expectation that the acquisition may weaken the combined company’s pro forma risk profile, with a higher level of equity and structured finance investments,” said S&P Global analyst Trevor Martin in a May 23 research note.

At the same time, S&P Global Ratings placed the BB rating on American Capital on CreditWatch positive after the news.

“The CreditWatch reflects our expectation that ACAS will be merged into higher-rated ARCC upon the completion of the transaction, which we expect to close in the second half of 2016. Also, we expect ACAS’ outstanding debt to be repaid in conjunction with the transaction,” S&P Global analyst Matthew Carroll said in a research note.

Not the first time
But Ares Capital says it has a plan. In 2010, Ares acquired Allied Capital, a BDC which pre-dated the financial crisis. On a conference call at the time of the deal announcement, management said it plans a similar strategy for integrating American Capital, of repositioning lower yielding and non-yielding investments into higher-yielding, directly sourced assets.

Ares Capital managed to increase the weighted average yield of the Allied investment portfolio by over 130 bps in the 18 months after the purchase, and reduce non-accrual investments from over 9% to 2.3% by the end of 2012, Michael Arougheti said in the May 23 investor call. Arougheti is co-chairman of Ares Capital and co-founder of Ares.

“The Allied book was a little bit more challenged, or a lot more challenged, than the ACAS portfolio is today,” Arougheti said. Ares Capital’s non-accrual investments totaled 1.3% on a cost basis, or 0.6% at fair value, as of March 31.

“Remember, that acquisition was made against a much different market backdrop. And so, while the roadmap is going to be very similar… this can be a lot less complicated that that transaction was for us.”

The failings of American Capital’s strategy reached fever pitch last November, when the lender capitulated to pressure from activist investor Elliott Management just a week after it raised an issue with the spin-off plan.

American Capital’s management had proposed in late 2014 spinning off two new BDCs to shareholders, and said it would focus on the business of asset management. However, in May last year, management revised the plan, saying it would spin off just one BDC.

But Elliott Management stepped in, announcing in November that it acquired an 8.4% stake. It later increased its stake further, becoming the largest shareholder of American Capital. The company argued that even the new plan would only serve to entrench poorly performing management, and called for management to withdraw the spin-off proposal.

American Capital listened. Within days, American Capital unveiled a strategic review, including a sale of part or all of the company.

One reason for the about-face was likely its incorporation status in Delaware, which made the board vulnerable to annual election. Incorporation in Maryland, utilized by other BDCs, is considered more favorable to management, in part because the election of boards is often staggered.

Although American Capital had shrunk its investment portfolio in recent quarters, it had participated in the market until recently.

Among recent deals, American Capital helped arrange in November a $170 million loan backing an acquisition of Kele, Inc. by Snow Phipps Group. Antares Capital was agent. In June 2015, American Capital was sole lender and second-lien agent on a $51 million second-lien loan backing an acquisition of Compusearch Software Systems by ABRY Partners. — Abby Latour

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Qlik Technologies record $1B loan signals direct lending growing up

With today’s record $1 billion loan to fund an acquisition of Qlik Technologies, BDCs are giving notice that direct lending is moving far beyond its middle market roots to challenge traditionally distributed debt financing.

Ares Capital Corp. is leading the $1.075 financing, announced today, which is the largest-ever unitranche credit facility by a BDC. Unitranche combines different tiers of debt, which normally would have different interest rates, into a single loan.

Private equity firm Thoma Bravo is buying Qlik, based in Radnor, Pa., but founded in Sweden, which provides data visualization and analytics software. Shares trade on Nasdaq under the ticker QLIK.

Golub Capital, TPG’s dedicated credit and special situations platform, or TSSP, and Varagon Capital Partners are also joint lead arrangers.

It remains to be seen if this is the advent of a new lending landscape in which unitranche deals of $1 billion or more are commonplace. The acquisition financing for Qlik Technologies stemmed from a period in the loan market when primary issuance was stalled due to financial market volatility that disrupted usual syndication channels.

Leveraged finance market conditions have since improved. Admittedly, the deal’s structure would be a tougher decision by Thoma Bravo in current conditions than those of two months ago, when risk-averse investors shunned complex-story credits or pushed for economic and structural concessions to levels that made buyouts unattractive.

What’s more, this transaction isn’t expected to close until the third quarter, when financial market conditions could be far different than those offered in what is, for now, a buoyant environment for credit. Minimizing risk due to the syndication process is far more attractive to a buyer in most cases.

The transaction is subject to shareholder and regulatory approvals.

A merger deal announced last week stoked expectations that larger loan deals may be ahead from BDCs. Ares Capital, which trades on Nasdaq under the ticker ARCC, announced on May 23 it would buy rival lender American Capital, which trades on Nasdaq as ACAS, for $3.4 billion.

Ares management made no secret of the fact that the company’s purchase of American Capital would allow Ares to originate larger loans, thus generating more underwriting and distribution fees.

In an investor presentation about the purchase of American Capital, Ares pointed out how volatile market conditions had led to enhanced pricing and terms, and increased regulatory burden for banks was opening opportunities for them.

Market volatility—as well as increased regulatory scrutiny of commercial banks that emerged more than two years ago—had already opened the door to club-like transactions by BDCs, which will likely hold the majority of the debt for the Qlik deal.

BDCs are able, and willing, to accept higher leverage levels than banks. In the case of Qlik Technologies, the transaction is expected to result in leverage of more than 6x, sources said.

What’s more, the company generates most revenue outside the U.S., and EBITDA is highly adjusted, creating a structurally complex deal, sources said. Significant cost savings are expected through the buyout.

Such adjustments can present hurdles for banks looking to gain internal approvals to underwrite debt deals, and the prospect of a new alternative financing channel could spur renewed interest in buyout business.

Notably, the $1.075 billion unitranche loan for Qlik Technologies accounts for around one-third of the roughly $3 billion purchase price. Under terms of the acquisition, Qlik shareholders will receive $30.50 in cash per share.

Ares Capital says it is committed to holding a large portion of the financing. At the same time, Ares Capital said it would lead a syndication process to attract more lenders to the credit facility, but only a small part is expected to be syndicated.

“We believe this transaction is representative of the growing acceptance of direct lending as a mature asset class, and we believe our market leading position puts us in the forefront of this paradigm shift,” said Kipp deVeer, Ares Capital CEO, in a statement today.

Ares Capital is no stranger to larger-sized deals.

Last year, Ares Capital closed an $800 million loan for American Seafoods Group, another example of a non-regulated arranger capturing lending business that usually would have gone to a large bank. American Seafoods used proceeds to refinance debt and fund a bond exchange.

The amount of Ares Capital’s exposure to this investment has since shrunk.

As of March 31, the fair value of the American Seafood investment in Ares Capital’s investment portfolio totaled $81.7 million, including first-lien debt, second-lien debt, equity, and warrants. The largest of these was a $55 million, L+900 second-lien loan due 2022, with a fair value of $53 million.

The per-share purchase price for Qlik represents a 40% premium over $21.83, which was the average share price in the 10 days prior to March 3.

On March 3, activist shareholder Elliott Management unveiled an investment in Qlik Technologies, a move that prompted the company to put itself up for sale. Later that month, Qlik hired Morgan Stanley to explore a possible sale of the company, Reuters reported. — Abby Latour

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Apollo Eyes $800M High Yield Bond Offering Backing The Fresh Market Buy

The Fresh Market is out with an $800 million offering of seven-year (non-call three) senior secured notes.

Barclays, RBC, Jefferies, Macquarie, and UBS are bookrunners on the transaction.

Roadshows are slated for Monday to Thursday of next week, with pricing expected thereafter.

Proceeds from the 144a for life offering will be used to finance the acquisition The Fresh Market by Apollo Global Management. The sponsors announced its $1.36 billion take-private of the specialty grocery retailer last month. The acquisition will also be financed by a $100 million revolving credit.

The sponsor would contribute $495 million of cash equity to the transaction, along with $131 million of rollover equity, to make a total equity contribution of $626 million.

The $28.50 per share all-cash offer by Apollo represents a premium of roughly 24% over The Fresh Market’s closing share price on March 11, 2016, and a premium of approximately 53% over the Feb. 10, 2016 closing share price (the day prior to press speculation regarding a potential transaction).

The company operates 186 stores in 27 states across the U.S. — Staff reports

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Leveraged Finance Fights Melanoma benefit planned for May 24

The fifth annual Leveraged Finance Fights Melanoma benefit and cocktail party is planned for May 24 at the Summer Garden and Sea Grill at Rockefeller Center. Funds raised at the event will support the Melanoma Research Alliance (MRA), the world’s largest private funder of melanoma research, which was founded in 2007 by Debra and Leon Black under the auspices of the Milken Institute.

Since this event was launched in 2012, the leveraged finance community has come together and generously supported over $5 million of cutting-edge cancer research. These funded studies have accelerated advances in immunotherapy treatments that have led to breakthroughs like anti-PD-1 agents which are being used to treat melanoma, were recently approved to treat lung cancer, and are now being tested in other tumors including bladder, blood, and kidney cancers.

The event co-hosts are Brendan Dillon from UBS; Lee Grinberg from Elliott Management; George Mueller from KKR; Jeff Rowbottom from PSP Investments; Cade Thompson from KKR; and Trevor Watt from Hellman & Friedman. Attendees include the biggest names in leveraged finance, from all of the top banks, many investment houses, several law firms, select issuers, and some private equity sponsors. As with the prior events, LCD is a proud sponsor.

Due to ongoing operational support from its founders, 100% of donations to MRA go directly to support research programs working toward a cure for melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer. Since MRA began its work, 11 new treatments have been approved by the FDA.

Funds raised from prior year events have supported six MRA research awards at institutions spanning the U.S. These projects focus on targeted and immunotherapy treatments, which boost the immune system to fight off cancer more effectively. The studies address critical research questions to advance the development of new therapies for melanoma patients and inform progress against cancer as a whole.

“We’re making tremendous breakthroughs in understanding and treating melanoma, including several new therapies that could be game-changers for the entire field of oncology,” said Jeff Rowbottom, LFFM co-host and MRA board member. “The Leveraged Finance Fights Melanoma events have supported important research that is enabling innovations in the way we treat cancer.”

The objectives for the 2016 LFFM event are to increase awareness, to raise funds to further advance research, and to save lives. Melanoma awareness and early detection are vital when it comes to combating the disease; if melanoma is detected early—before it has spread beyond the skin—it is almost always treatable. Past events have led to many members of the leveraged finance community seeing dermatologists for skin checks and even to the discovery and treatment of several early stage melanomas.

Tickets are $300. For further information about the event and to purchase tickets, please visitcuremelanoma.thankyou4caring.org/lffm2016. Those seeking information about the event and sponsorship opportunities can contact Rachel Gazzerro of MRA at (202) 336-8947 or [email protected]. — Staff reports

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The Fresh Market eyes secured bonds in Apollo-backed take-private transaction

Barclays, Royal Bank of Canada, Jefferies, and Macquarie have committed to provide debt financing to back Apollo Global Management’s $1.36 billion take-private of specialty grocery retailer The Fresh Market, which was announced today. The deal would be funded with $800 million of senior secured notes, while The Fresh Market would also place a $100 million revolving credit, according to the company.

The sponsor would contribute $525 million of cash equity to the transaction, along with rollover equity from Ray Berry and Brett Berry, who collectively own approximately 9.8% of The Fresh Market’s outstanding shares.

The $28.50 per share all-cash offer by Apollo represents a premium of approximately 24% over The Fresh Market’s closing share price on March 11, 2016, and a premium of approximately 53% over the Feb. 10, 2016 closing share price, the day prior to press speculation regarding a potential transaction.

The transaction includes a 21-day go-shop period that would lapse on April 1.

As of March 14, 2016, the company operates 186 stores in 27 states across the U.S. — Staff reports