While not yet officially ., the newly forming company that is emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this month already has received a rating on new debt.
Moody’s Investor Service assigned a B1 corporate family rating to Beechcraft Holdings, LLC on a proposed $375 million term loan that will be used as part of its financing to exit from Chapter 11.
The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York on Feb. 1 confirmed Hawker Beechcraft’s reorganization plan, clearing the way for the company to emerge from bankruptcy later this month.
When the company emerges, it will have the new name – Beechcraft Corp. – a new board of directors and new ownership comprising its major debt holders. Bill Boisture will continue to steer the company, becoming CEO. Steve Miller, the corporate turnaround specialist who joined the financially troubled company early last year, becomes senior advisor to the board.
Hawker Beechcraft is finalizing the details of its financing, which will also include a $225 million line of credit, working on new marketing and branding, and preparing for closing. “There are no lingering court questions that impact our ability to exit bankruptcy other than closing on the exit financing,” a company spokeswoman says.
While it is taking on $600 million in new debt, the new Beechcraft will be shed of $2.5 billion in old debt and have a much lower cost base with the transfer of two of its three pension plans to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.
It also has a pared down product line focused on pistons, turboprops and special mission aircraft with the jet lines shuttered. Hawker Beechcraft still has the ability to sell its jet lines, and the company “continues evaluating its strategic alternatives for the Hawker product lines,” the spokeswoman says. But it has sold off all its remaining inventory of Hawker 4000, Hawker 125 series and Premier lines. This includes a Hawker 4000 inventory that once carried a potential market value of up to $400 million.
On Feb. 1, Miller and Boisture sent a joint letter to the company’s customer base that called the court confirmation “the final significant step in the restructuring process for Hawker Beechcraft.”
The company says the reorganization will enable it to meet its goal of emerging “in a strong operational and financial position, with an enhanced ability to compete well into the future.”
As for its new Moody’s rating, the ratings agency says, “The B1 CFR favorably reflects the significant reduction in both debt and pension obligation following emergence from Chapter 11 and the company’s exit from its unprofitable Hawker Jet business and related warranties.”
Moody’s also believes that the parts and services operations provide stable, predictable profits. While the company dropped certain warranty and support obligations, Miller and Boisture assured customers that “the company continues to provide service, maintenance, parts and technical support through its Hawker Beechcraft Services facilities and Hawker Beechcraft Parts and Distribution network for the full line of Hawker and Beechcraft products.”
Moody’s is also optimistic about the new company’s order outlook. “We expect the post-bankruptcy Beechcraft to demonstrate solid near-term order bookings driven by pent-up demand, an improving economic backdrop and the introduction of product upgrades,” the rating’s agency says, and adds it expects a “sequential improvement in earnings and cash flow beginning in late 2013.”
But the agency is doubtful it will upgrade the rating before a “meaningful improvement in earnings coupled with a reduction in debt.”