AMC Theatres reached a debt agreement on Friday that could help the heavily leveraged exhibition chain avoid or at least forestall a liquidity crisis.
Under the deal, Silver Lake Group will purchase $100 million in first lien notes, adding to the $600 million in convertible bonds that it already holds in AMC. The company, which is the world’s largest theater chain, said in public filings that it will raise $200 million in cash by allowing debt-holders to swap their securities at a discount. As part of the deal, the interest they receive would be either 10% in cash or 12% in additional notes that would be due in 2026.
AMC said renegotiating its debt will help it manage to stay solvent through 2021. The company has been hit hard by coronavirus, which has forced it to shutter its chains, depriving it of income. Even before the pandemic, AMC had amassed a great deal of debt to outfit its theaters with luxury seating, and to buy competitors such as Carmike and Odeon. The company ended 2019 with more than $4.75 billion in corporate borrowings. In June, AMC acknowledged that coronavirus, which forced it to shutter its more than 1,000 theaters, and lay off or furlough 600 employees, could push it into bankruptcy.
The debt renegotiation may clean up its balance sheet and help AMC avoid a Chapter 11 bankruptcy, but the theater chain still faces significant challenges. It is banking on coronavirus infection rates falling sufficiently, so it can start reopening, and it is hoping that the new cleaning and safety measures it has implemented will give consumers the confidence they need to return to cinemas.
Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” and Disney’s live-action remake of “Mulan” are key parts of that strategy and are currently slated to open in August. However, many insiders expect that a surge in COVID-19 infections may make that impossible.