PennantPark Floating Rate Capital, a business-development company, announced plans today to expand its portfolio through the acquisition of MCG Capital, a struggling lender to middle-market companies that had taken steps to wind down its portfolio.
PennantPark Floating Rate Capital, which trades on the NASDAQ under the symbol PFLT, will acquire MCGC in a $175 million cash-and-stock transaction, or $4.75 per MCGC share. MCGC stockholders will receive $4.521 in PFLT shares and $0.226 per share in cash from PennantPark Investment Advisers, and possibly an additional $0.25 depending on PFLT’s NAV over a 10-day period.
MCGC shares jumped 10% today, to $4.51, from $4.10 at yesterday’s close on the Nasdaq.
Boards of both companies approved the transaction. Stockholders of both companies need to agree to the transaction. The deal is expected to close in the third quarter.
The equity base of the combined company is expected to total $376 million.
“A balance sheet of this size will allow the combined company to be a more important provider of capital to middle-market sponsors and corporate borrowers,” a joint statement today said.
“PFLT expects, over time, to deploy most of MCGC’s cash into an investment portfolio consistent with that of PFLT’s existing loan portfolio.”
The deal is a boon to MCGC shareholders. In October, MCG Capital announced it was winding down its portfolio and buying back its stock with asset-sale proceeds, citing a credit-cycle peak. In February, MCG Capital announced it was exploring a potential sale.
“Our stockholders should benefit through resumed receipt of dividends and ownership in a company with a strong balance sheet and proven track record,” said Richard Neu, Board Chairman of MCG Capital.
PennantPark Floating Rate Capital shares traded higher after the announcement, touching $14.23, but have since erased gains to trade steady, at $14.15 on the Nasdaq, which was overall lower. Investments in middle-market companies can be difficult to acquire, except over an extended period. Buying an entire portfolio can be an attractive way to acquire a significant amount of assets at once in the competitive marketplace. Investors of debt in middle-market companies usually find economies of scale from larger holdings.
Another huge portfolio of middle-market assets is currently on the auction block. GE unveiled plans this month to sell GE Capital, the dominant player in middle-market lending. Leveraged Commentary & Data defines the business as lending to companies that generate EBITDA of $50 million or less, or $350 million or less by debt size, although definitions vary among lenders.
MCG Capital, formerly known as MCG Credit Corp., was a specialty lender focused on telecoms, communications, publishing, and media companies that was spun off from Signet Bank. Over the past decade, the company managed to shed some underperforming assets and diversify, but the company remained saddled with legacy assets from poorly performing traditional businesses.
PennantPark Floating Rate Capital is an externally managed business-development company, or BDC. The lender targets 65% of its portfolio for investments in senior secured loans and 35% in second-lien, high yield, mezzanine, distressed debt, and equity of below-investment-grade U.S. middle-market companies. The portfolio totaled $354 million at year-end on a fair-value basis.
PennantPark Investment Advisers receives fees from PennantPark Floating Rate Capital for investment advising, some of which are linked to performance of PFLT.
In December, MCG Capital announced the results of a Dutch auction, saying it bought 4.86 million shares for $3.75 each, representing 11.2% of shares outstanding, for a total of $18.2 million. MCG also reinstated an open market share repurchase program. In total, MCG Capital bought more than 31 million shares in 2014, totaling more than $117 million.
In April, MCG Capital completed a sale of Pharmalogic, marking the exit of all of the lender’s control investments. MCG Capital provided a $17.5 million, 8.5% first-lien loan due 2017, and a revolver, to facilitate the sale. Pharmalogic is a nuclear compounding pharmacy for regional hospitals and imaging centers.
MCG Capital had also struggled with a few poor, but isolated, bets, market sources said.
One misstep was MCG’s investment in Broadview Networks. The company, a provider of communications and IT solutions to small and midsize businesses, filed for Chapter 11 in 2012. MCG Capital owned more than 51% of the equity at the end of 2011.
Another black eye for MCG Capital was an investment in plant-and-flower producer Color Star Growers of Colorado. The company filed for bankruptcy in December 2013, resulting in a loss of $13.5 million that year for MCG Capital. Regions Bank claimed its losses totaled $35 million for the transaction.
MCG Capital filed a suit against the company’s auditor, alleging accounting fraud and material misrepresentation of Color Star’s financial state at the time of a subordinated loan transaction with Color Star in November 2012.
Some say the writing was on the wall as MCG Capital underwent a series of senior management changes. Keith Kennedy became CEO in April, succeeding B. Hagen Saville, who retired. In November 2012, Saville took over from Richard Neu, who stayed on as board chair. Neu was elected to the post in October 2011, taking over from Steven Tunney, who left the company to pursue other interests. – Abby Latour