Toys"R"Us taps law firm to weigh restructuring options: source

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Toys”R”Us Inc has hired law firm Kirkland & Ellis LLP to help weigh restructuring options ranging from a bankruptcy filing to raising financing as bricks and mortar retail goes through a major downturn, according to a person familiar with the matter.

File Photo - The mostly empty shelves of a Toys "R" Us flagship store in Times Square are seen after it closed permanently in the Manhattan borough of New York December 30, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

The privately held toy retailer had previously said it was working with investment bank Lazard Ltd to help address its approximately $5 billion in debt, of which roughly $400 million comes due next year.

The person could not be identified because the law firm’s hiring is not yet public.

In a statement, the company said it would provide an update on how it planned to deal with its debt when it announced second quarter earnings on Sept 26.

“As we previously discussed on our first quarter earnings call, Toys”R”Us is evaluating a range of alternatives to address our 2018 debt maturities, which may include the possibility of obtaining additional financing,” it said.

CNBC first reported that Toys”R”Us had tapped Kirkland & Ellis for help addressing its maturities. A spokesman for Kirkland & Ellis declined to comment.

More than a dozen retailers including children’s clothier The Gymboree Corporation and teen apparel seller Rue21 Inc have filed for bankruptcy this year as consumers shift their spending habits to e-commerce competitors.

Toys"R"Us refinanced some of its debt last year, giving it a few more years to turn its business around before facing billions in debt repayments. In addition to e-commerce, Toys"R"Us has seen steep competition from discounters Wal-Mart Stores IncWMT.N and Target CorpTGT.N.

A large portion of Toys”R”Us’s debt is secured by real estate, which could help the company’s refinancing prospects, according to Fitch. The ratings agency said that real estate valuations have largely remained the same or improved since Toy”R”Us’s properties were appraised but cautioned that retail’s recent financial weakness could hurt those figures.

Toys”R”Us is owned by buyout firms Bain Capital Private Equity L.P., KKR & Co L.P. and Vornado Realty Trust.

Reporting by Jessica DiNapoli in New York; Editing by Carmel Crimmins and Cynthia Osterman