U.S. Bankruptcy Tracker: ‘Artificial’ Economy Awaits Fallout

Easy-money policies and pandemic-driven government spending have created an “artificially inflated” economy that could lead to a “massive boom in restructurings,” according to Tom Lauria, global head of restructuring at law firm White & Case.

“We continue to see significant restructuring activity, particularly in the energy industry, travel-related services, pharmaceuticals and in other sectors that are exposed to potential mass tort liability,” Lauria said in an interview. “But, more importantly, the current economic climate is artificially inflated.”

Three companies with at least $50 million in liabilities filed for bankruptcy in the U.S. last week, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That marks the fourth straight week of at least three large filings per week.

U.S. Bankruptcy Tracker: ‘Artificial’ Economy Awaits Fallout

Despite the recent pickup in bankruptcies, activity is still muted compared to last year: 75 large companies had filed for bankruptcy in the U.S. as of June 28, compared to 126 in the same period last year.

“Money is being forced into equity and debt terms” at cheap rates, “but I feel that it is all artificial and there will come a point-in-time when the music stops and there will be a bunch of businesses out there without a seat,” Lauria said. White & Case is building out its restructuring group in anticipation for the ramp-up, he said.

Danger may also lurk in businesses banking on a strong recovery from the pandemic, according to Sandy Qusba, head of restructuring at law firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett.

Businesses are relying on metrics “that may not always materialize” which could result in future restructurings, Qusba said. “People are projecting a return to pre-pandemic revenue levels. I’m not convinced that’s going to happen for some companies, certainly not across the board,” he said.

Meanwhile, the total amount of traded distressed bonds and loans rose 6.7% week-over-week to $64.6 billion as of June 25, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The amount of traded distressed bonds rose 9.5% week-on-week, while distressed loans climbed 1%.

Click here for a worksheet of distressed bonds and loans

There were 177 distressed bonds from 105 issuers trading as of Monday, up from 169 and 100, respectively, one week earlier, according to Trace data.

Diamond Sports Group LLC had the most distressed debt of issuers that hadn’t filed for bankruptcy as of June 25, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Its parent company, Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc., said in a March filing that it expects Diamond to have enough cash for the next 12 months if the pandemic doesn’t get worse.

Top 5 Distressed IssuersDebt ($B)
Diamond Sports Group LLC8.0
Transocean Inc2.8
GTT Communications2.3
Odebrecht Offshore Drilling Finance1.9
Lightstone Holdco1.8

Click here for more news on distressed debt and bankruptcy. First Word is curated by Bloomberg editors to give you actionable news from Bloomberg and select sources, including Dow Jones and Twitter. First Word can be customized to your Worksheet, sectors, geography or other criteria by clicking into Actions on the toolbar or hitting the HELP key for assistance.

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