• Clint Engel

CIT Group files for Chapter 11 protection

New York — CIT Group filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Sunday, in an effort to wipe away billions of dollars of debt after bondholders rejected an alternative debt-swap offer.

The company, a major factoring lender to the home furnishings industry and a key lending source to small to midsized businesses, said none of its operating subsidiaries were included in the prepackaged filing in New York. The subsidiaries are expected to continue operating.

About 90% of the CIT debt holders voting through last week chose bankruptcy over a debt exchange plan that the company floated. In a release, CIT said it expects a quick court confirmation of its reorganization plan. It also expects to cut its total debt by about $10 billion, reduce its liquidity needs and "enhance its capital ratios and accelerate its return to profitability."

"The decision to proceed with our plan of reorganization will allow CIT to continue to provide funding to our small business and middle market customers, two sectors that remain vitally important to the U.S. economy," said CIT chairman and ceo Jeffrey Peek.

"This market-based solution allows CIT to enter into the reorganization process well-prepared and positioned for swift emergence," he said.

CIT said it is the largest factoring company in the United States.

Last week, it secured a new $4.5 billion credit facility as well as an additional $1 billion from bondholder Carl Icahn that will be used as a debtor-in-possession loan.

In its filing, CIT also said that Bank of America has agreed to provide it with a new $500 million senior secured credit facility to issue letters of credit, which are particularly important to continue to support its trade finance business obligations.

In the Chapter 11 petition, the company listed $71 billion in assets and $64.9 billion in liabilities. Under the prepackaged plan, all of CIT's common and preferred stock will be canceled upon emergence.

CIT Group said in court documents that the company lost access to certain commercial paper markets because of credit downgrades in 2008. That led it to draw down several revolving credit facilities.

The company's biggest liabilities were long-term borrowing of $54 billion. Its next greatest liabilities are credit balances of factoring clients of $2.7 billion and deposits of $5.4 billion.

As of June 30, CIT's trade finance segment, which handles factoring, held assets of $5 billion, or 7.9% of the company's total finance and leasing portfolio assets.



Clint EngelClint Engel | Senior Retail Editor, Furniture Today

Please feel free to email or call me with all of your retail news and tips, including expansion news, successful merchandising and marketing strategies and anything else you would like to see covered by Furniture/Today.  Contact me directly at cengel@furnituretoday.com or 336-605-1129.

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