Slideshow: The Year’s Top Private Equity Deals

Last week, we discovered which private equity firm was the biggest dealmaker. Now it’s time for the largest PE deals of the year. Global PE-backed M&A totaled $267 billion so far in 2012, a 12% drop from 2011, according to preliminary data from Thomson Reuters. Private equity-backed mergers targeting the U.S. reached roughly $137 billion year-to-date, a 7% decline from 2011.

Hyatt Sets IPO Terms

(Reuters) – Hyatt Hotels Corp (H.N) set the size and price range of its planned initial public offering, suggesting the launch of the $931 million deal is imminent despite signs of feuding within the controlling Pritzker family. (peHUB note: Goldman Sachs and Madrone Capital Partners maintain stakes in the company.) The Chicago-based hotel chain, which […]

Weekly Downgrade Wrap-Up (Upgrades Galore!)

As usual, we have a week’s worth of ratings actions on the debt of private equity-backed companies from Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s Investor Services. This week was a good one for debtholders, as a number of companies saw their debt ratings upgraded.

But on second thought, it wasn’t that great, since most of these upgrades are post-distressed-debt exchange. After an ‘SD’ (selective default) rating, there’s nowhere to go but up, and in a distressed debt exchange, someone has to take the short end of the stick, and it’s usually not the equity holder. Certainly not an ideal situation, but as I said last week, we’re only at the tip of the distressed debt exchange iceberg (despite oddly successful issuances from the likes of previously unpopular companies like Harrah’s). Get ready for a very cold few years…

Company: Brigham Exploration Co.
Sponsor: DLJ Merchant Banking Partners
Update: S&P affirmed its ‘CCC+’ corporate credit rating on the oil and gas exploration and production company. It’s been removed from the Weakest Links list because the outlook is developing.
Highlights: “The affirmation follows the company’s announcement that it has received net proceeds of roughly $94 million from an equity issuance. Although the pro forma liquidity profile is much improved, we are concerned that liquidity could become tight in the fourth quarter of 2009 or first half of 2010 due to low natural gas prices and an increased capital budget.”

Next Covenant Tripper Could Be GS Capital’s Hawker Beechcraft

As the deleveraging process continues, yet another over-levered buyout-backed company faces a covenant breech. GS Capital and Onex Partners-backed aircraft maker Hawker Beechcraft is expected to inject more cash into the company, according to Debtwire.

The company has “burned through” $140 million in the past five weeks and is expected to fully draw down its revolver to buy back bonds before GS Capital or Onex infuse any more cash, the news service reported. An injection of cash, above the firms’ $1 billion equity check in 2007, is expected in exchange for covenant relief. This indicates the company’s backers aren’t planning to push it into Chapter 11.

Last month S&P lowered the company’s corporate credit rating to ‘B-’ from ‘B+’. The ratings agency cited the potential for distressed redemption offers for the company’s debt as one reason for the downgrade.

Amendments and exchange offers are becoming more common as buyout-backed companies seek to avoid costly bankruptcy proceedings. The trend could very well strengthen after the U.S. government managed to turn the entire Chapter 11 bankruptcy process on its head this week.

Weekly Downgrade Wrap-Up

As usual, we have a week’s worth of downgrades on the debt of private equity-backed companies from Standard and Poor’s and Moody’s. (Reminder: We’d call it an upgrade wrap-up if the ratings agencies ever issued on. In eight weeks of doing this column, we’ve seen one.)

This week there are eight, including an unsolicited rating, which we welcome as a step in the right direction for the previously “censored” ratings agencies. Besides, as we pointed out last week, too many companies are asking the agencies to withdraw their ratings just because they don’t like getting downgraded.

Bain Capital and GS Capital were this week’s repeat offenders.

Company: Harman International Industries
Sponsor: GS Capital and KKR
Downgrade: Moody’s lowered the comapany’s corporate family and probability of default ratings to B1 from Ba2.
Highlights: “The B1 Corporate Family Rating reflects further expected deterioration of Harman’s operating performance and resulting credit metrics over the intermediate term from the significant reductions in demand for the company’s products.”

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