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Michael Terry, CFA has nearly 20 years of experience in the investment management industry focused on the analysis, investment and management of fixed income and preferred stock portfolios. Over the years, Mr. Terry has analyzed and invested in both public and private companies around the world... More
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  • Airgas Covenants: Why Bother? 0 comments
    Sep 29, 2010 10:50 AM | about stocks: ARG, APD

    I was reading through the prospectus on the new Airgas 3.25% due 2015 to get a feel for the covenants offered to investors.  Here is the quick and dirty:

    $101 change of control (COC).  The covenant has the standard verbage one has come to expect: 

    Change of Control Triggering Event

    Upon the occurrence of a Change of Control Triggering Event, unless we have exercised our right to redeem the notes as described under “—Optional Redemption,” each holder of notes will have the right to require us to purchase all or a portion (equal to $2,000 and any integral multiple of $1,000 in excess thereof) of such holder’s notes pursuant to the offer described below (the “Change of Control Offer”), at a purchase price equal to 101% of the principal amount thereof plus accrued and unpaid interest, if any, to the date of purchase (the “Change of Control Payment”), subject to the rights of holders of notes on the relevant record date to receive interest due on the relevant interest payment date.

    “Change of Control” means the occurrence of any of the following:

    (1) the direct or indirect sale, transfer, conveyance or other disposition (other than by way of merger or consolidation), in one or a series of related transactions, of all or substantially all of the properties or assets of Airgas and its Subsidiaries taken as a whole to any “person” (as that term is used in Section 13(d)(3) of the Exchange Act) other than a Principal or a Related Party of a Principal;
    (2) the adoption of a plan relating to the liquidation or dissolution of Airgas;
    (3) the consummation of any transaction (including, without limitation, any merger or consolidation) the result of which is that any “person” (as defined above) other than a Principal and its Related Parties, becomes the Beneficial Owner, directly or indirectly, of more than 50% of the Voting Stock of Airgas, measured by voting power rather than number of shares;
    (4) Airgas consolidates with, or merges with or into, any Person (other than a Principal or a Related Party of a Principal), or any Person (other than a Principal or a Related Party of a Principal) consolidates with, or merges with or into, Airgas, in any such event pursuant to a transaction in which any of the outstanding Voting Stock of Airgas or such other Person is converted into or exchanged for cash, securities or other property, other than any such transaction where the shares of the Voting Stock of Airgas outstanding immediately prior to such transaction constitute, or are converted into or exchanged for, a majority of the Voting Stock of the surviving Person immediately after giving effect to such transaction; or
    (5) the first day on which a majority of the members of the board of directors of Airgas are not Continuing Directors.

    “Change of Control Triggering Event” means, with respect to the notes, the notes cease to be rated Investment Grade by each of the Rating Agencies on any date during the period (the “Trigger Period”) commencing 60 days prior to the first public announcement by us of any Change of Control (or pending Change of Control) and ending 60 days following consummation of such Change of Control (which Trigger Period will be extended following consummation of a Change of Control for so long as any of the Rating Agencies has publicly announced that it is considering a possible ratings change). Notwithstanding the foregoing, no Change of Control Triggering Event will be deemed to have occurred in connection with any particular Change of Control unless and until such Change of Control has actually been consummated.

    Limitations on Liens (and sale/leaseback transactions).  This covenant made me laugh out loud.  Here goes (emphasis mine): 

    Restrictions on Liens

    We will not, and will not permit any Restricted Subsidiary to, Incur any Indebtedness secured by any Lien on any shares of stock, Indebtedness or other obligations of a Restricted Subsidiary or any Principal Property of ours or a Restricted Subsidiary, whether such shares of stock, Indebtedness or other obligations of a Subsidiary or Principal Property is owned at the date of the Indenture or thereafter acquired, without in any such case effectively providing that all the notes will be directly secured equally and ratably with such Lien.

    Looks typical, right?  Has customary exclusions and a 10% of consolidated Net Tangible Assets carve out (issuer is allowed to lien 10% of CNTA without violating the covenant).  But then we read further and see what I feel has always been a sticky point:
    Given the size of our operations, at any given time we expect to have very few or no Principal Properties and, accordingly, very few or no Restricted Subsidiaries.

    Okay, so they cannot lien what they do not have.  Everything is fair game then.  This brings back memories of asking companies to tell me what their "principal properties" were and what they were carried for on the balance sheet.  The vacant stares and silence were almost amusing.

    And finally, we have the

    Consolidation; Merger or Sale of Substantially All Assets

    We may: (1) consolidate or merge with or into another Person; or (2) sell, assign, transfer, convey or otherwise dispose of all or substantially all of our properties or assets and our Subsidiaries taken as a whole, in one or more related transactions, to another Person; if:

    (1) either: (a) we are the surviving corporation; or (b) the Person formed by or surviving any such consolidation or merger (if other than Airgas) or to which such sale, assignment, transfer, conveyance or other disposition has been made is a corporation organized or existing under the laws of the United States, any state of the United States or the District of Columbia (any such Person, the “Successor Company”);
    (2) the Successor Company assumes all the obligations of Airgas under the notes and the Indenture pursuant to agreements reasonably satisfactory to the trustee; and
    (3) immediately after such transaction no default exists.

    The Successor Company will be the successor to Airgas and shall succeed to, and be substituted for, and may exercise every right and power of, Airgas under the Indenture, and the predecessor company shall be released from its obligations with respect to the notes, including with respect to its obligation to pay the principal of and interest on the notes. Under these circumstances, if our properties or assets become subject to a Lien not permitted by the Indenture, we will equally and ratably secure the notes.

    This is the successor obligor clause.  The company can be bought as long as the purchaser assumes the notes (downside somewhat limited due to the $101 COC).  Lets not forget the "all or substantially all" phrase.  This is a litigation phrase as there has been no "bright line" determined for what constitutes "all or substantially all".

    Cross-default.  A default is deemed to have occured under the indenture if:
    default under any mortgage, indenture or instrument under which there may be issued or by which there may be secured or evidenced any Indebtedness for money borrowed by Airgas or any of its Significant Subsidiaries (or the payment of which is guaranteed by Airgas or any of its Significant Subsidiaries) whether such Indebtedness or guarantee now exists, or is created after the date of the  Indenture, if that default (a) is caused by a failure to pay principal at its stated maturity after giving effect to any applicable grace period provided in such Indebtedness (a “Payment Default”); or (b) results in the acceleration of such Indebtedness prior to its express maturity, and, in each case, the principal amount of any such Indebtedness, together with the principal amount of any other such Indebtedness under which there has been a Payment Default or the maturity of which has been so accelerated, aggregates $100.0 million or more.
    Bottom line:  The COC helps due to the Air Products (NYSE:APD) bid (arguably a better company though, wouldn't mind seeing the debt travel), but everything else is worthless.

    Not so for their credit line:
    The New Senior Credit Facility contains customary affirmative and negative covenants, including a financial covenant whereby the ratio of funded indebtedness to consolidated EBITDA may be no greater than 3.5 to 1.0. The New Senior Credit Facility contains certain customary events of default, including, without limitation, failure to make payments, breaches of covenants, breaches of representations and warranties, certain monetary judgments and bankruptcy and ERISA events. The New Senior Credit Facility also contains cross-default provisions whereby a default under the senior and senior subordinated notes discussed below or the notes offered hereby would likely result in a default under the New Senior Credit Facility. In the event of default, repayment of borrowings under the New Senior Credit Facility may be accelerated.

    Ever wonder why the banks always come out on top?  Are you still wondering?  I would call these covenants "let them eat cake" covenants.   We have learned nothing.

    Disclosure: no positions
    Stocks: ARG, APD
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