Brooks Brothers Gets Bankruptcy Loan With Zero Interest Rate

Competition to buy retailer Brooks Brothers Group Inc. will allow the company to fund its reorganization in bankruptcy with an $80 million loan that carries a zero interest rate and no closing fees.

ABG-BB LLC, a partnership between Authentic Brands Group LLC and mall landlord Simon Property Group Inc., will provide the loan. The generous terms reflect competition between that group and WHP Global, a brand-buying company backed by distressed debt giant Oaktree Capital Management LP, Garrett Fail, the retailer’s lawyer, said during a court hearing Friday.

“I’m convinced the terms will be the best that can be achieved,” Fail told U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Sontchi during the company’s first court hearing, which was held by telephone.

Sontchi said he would sign an order allowing the company to initially borrow $60 million. The company will return to court in the coming weeks to get permission to draw the rest of the money, which will be used to fund operations case while Brooks Brothers tries to find a buyer.

Before filing for bankruptcy, Brooks Brothers had arranged a $75 million DIP loan from WHP Global, owner of the Joseph Abboud and Anne Klein brands. The new loan will provide $80 million, eliminate an early repayment penalty and give the company more time to close any sale arranged as part of the bankruptcy case, Fail said.

Lenders who make so-called debtor-in-possession loans often have an advantage when trying to buy a company out of bankruptcy. Such loans almost always carry a higher interest rate than a non-bankrupt company would be charged.

“This is a very favorable if not unprecedented economic DIP,” said Kelley A. Cornish, a lawyer for ABG-BB, LLC the name of the joint venture between Authentic Brands and Simon Property.

Brooks Brothers will organize a court-supervised auction in the coming weeks that should attract a lot of competition, Fail said

“We have had active discussions with multiple bidders,” Fail said.

As it struggled to restructure outside of court, the company closed 51 stores and shut down manufacturing in Massachusetts, North Carolina and New York. When Brooks Brothers filed bankruptcy July 8 only 18 stores were open in the U.S. The company has 1,400 locations in 45 countries. Because of the pandemic, the company has furloughed 4,025 workers.

The case is Brooks Brothers Group Inc., 20-11785, U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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