Arcapita Files for Bankruptcy Protection as Debt Talks Fail

Arcapita Bank BSC, the owner of Irish power utility Viridian Group Ltd., filed for bankruptcy in the U.S. after failing to reach an agreement with creditors on a $1.1 billion loan due this month.
Arcapita, formerly known as First Islamic Investment Bank, and five affiliates sought Chapter 11 protection today in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan, listing more than $1 billion in both debts and assets. Arcapita’s board approved the process “to protect their business and assets and implement a comprehensive restructuring,” the Manama, Bahrain-based private-equity firm said in an e-mailed statement today.
The bankruptcy filing is a “logical step by the company to protect its foreign investments and from individual creditors going after the company’s assets in Europe, the U.S. and Asia,” Serge Lioutyi, a London-based distressed debt trader at Citigroup Global Markets Ltd. said in an e-mail today. It “will help the company focus on reaching a consensual agreement with creditors rather than worrying about individual claims.”
Arcapita is among companies in Bahrain that have sought protection to restructure liabilities after the global credit crisis cut their access to the debt market and as asset prices declined. Awal Bank BSC, a Bahrain-based wholesale bank, filed for Chapter 11 in October 2010, while Gulf Finance House BSC reached an agreement with a group of banks led by WestLB AG on a new two-year $100 million Islamic loan.

Failed Refinancing

The costs to insure Bahrain’s debt against default fell two basis points to 365 today, according to credit default swap data from CMA, which is owned by CME Group Inc. and compiles prices quoted by dealers in the privately negotiated market.
Arcapita’s efforts to refinance the $1.1 billion loan were hurt by the euro-zone debt crisis and the bank held talks with lenders to extend the facility by three years, Arcapita said in the statement. “The actions of certain non-bank creditors have precluded Arcapita from reaching such a consensual resolution before the March 28th maturity date,” it said.
The Central Bank of Bahrain was listed as the largest creditor, with a $255.1 million claim tied to a bank loan. Commerzbank AG has a $164.7 million claim also related to a loan and National Bank of Bahrain has a $132.3 million claim. Bahrain’s central bank said it was monitoring the case.

‘Asset Disposal’

The Chapter 11 provisions will allow Arcapita’s board and management to operate their business and “decisions related to asset disposal will also remain with Arcapita,” it said. The company manages about $7.4 billion and its investments include those in Viridian and U.S.-based Falcon Gas Storage Co.
Royal Bank of Scotland Plc is chairing a coordinating committee of lenders that is negotiating the terms of the restructuring, a person familiar with the plan said Feb. 27. Arcapita raised the facility in April 2007 at a margin of 85 basis points over the London Interbank Offered Rate, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Barclays Capital, Standard Chartered Plc (STAN) and WestLB AG helped arrange the loan.
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP and Linklaters LLP are Arcapita’s legal advisers, while NM Rothschild & Sons Ltd. is the financial adviser, according to the statement.
The case is Arcapita Bank BSC, 12-11076, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

To contact the reporters on this story: Arif Sharif in Dubai at asharif2@bloomberg.net; Tiffany Kary in New York at tkary@bloomberg.net
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Claudia Maedler at cmaedler@bloomberg.net