The two top-tier creditors agreed Tuesday to Caesars Entertainment Corporation’s (CEC) [NASDAQ:CZR] terms to restructure the company’s debt, leaving about US$1 billion on the table in exchange for protecting top executives of Apollo Global Management LLC and TPG Capital from bondholder lawsuits that could strip as much as $5b of their personal wealth. The move was seen as a positive sign that could lead to the end of a bitter two-year fight that at times threatened to take the Caesars parent company into bankruptcy along with their operating unit. The deal must still be approved by a judge.
Caesars had most recently offered junior bondholders 39 cents on the dollar for their stakes. The new deal would boost that to 66 cents in cash, equity, and convertible bonds. When Caesars Entertainment Operating Company (CEOC) filed for bankruptcy in January 2015 the offer was just 9 cents on the dollar.
The lawsuits against Caesars and its major equity owners were filed along with accusations that they had illegally stripped CEOC of profitable assets, shifting them to more stable subsidiaries, burdening CEOC with under-performing properties, then filing for bankruptcy on ore than $18b worth of debt.
In late August the junior bondholders won an important round in the fight when US bankruptcy court judge Benjamin Goldgar decided not to grant an extension of a temporary injunction on the lawsuits. Those cases may have resulted in judgements of as much as $10b. The judge saw no reason at that time to release Apollo and TPG executives from personal liability claims and allowed second-lien bondholders to review the tax and bank records of those executives, including TPG co-founder David Bonderman and Apollo co-founder Marc Rowan.
The private equity holders will relinquish the 14% of equity they would have held onto under previous plans removing them from ownership in the parent company, placing them only as two-thirds owners of subsidiary Caesars Acquisition Corp., which controls less than a quarter of the parent company’s shares.
The companies invested over $6b in a $30b leveraged buyout of Caesars at the height of the bubble-era and then things went south. The junior bondholder to see the most returns from the current restructuring plan, if it is approved by Judge Goldgar, is billionaire founder of Appaloosa Management, David Tepper, who saw his recovery possibilities almost double Tuesday. Tepper, along with Oaktree Capital, and Centerview Partners led the litigation against Caesars and their equity partners.