NEW YORK (Reuters) - CIT Group Inc (CIT.N) has clinched $3 billion of emergency financing from bondholders, keeping the struggling lender out of bankruptcy, a person close to the matter said.
The rescue from several big bondholders, including Pacific Investment Management Co, has been approved by CIT’s board and could be announced on Monday, the source said.
A rescue could allow more time for the 101-year-old lender to small and mid-sized businesses to restructure its debt, and preserve the ability of thousands of businesses to obtain cash needed for day-to-day operations.
Yet several analysts and bankers said it might only delay a bankruptcy filing, in light of skittishness among CIT customers and the New York-based company’s inability to readily tap capital markets.
“The deal is a negative for bondholders as it does not fix the underlying problem and layers in more secured debt,” wrote CreditSights Inc analysts Adam Steer and David Hendler. “Without a viable funding model, we believe CIT may still be at risk of filing for bankruptcy.”
CIT spokesman Curt Ritter declined to comment after initial reports of the rescue. He was not available on Monday.
In afternoon trading, CIT shares were up 56 cents, or 80 percent, at $1.26 on the New York Stock Exchange.
According to published reports, CIT would pay interest on the rescue financing 10 percentage points above the three-month London Interbank Offered Rate. This equates to an annual rate of about 10.5 percent.
The bondholder group includes Pimco, a unit of German insurer Allianz SE (ALVG.DE), and other large investors, and is expected to provide financing with a 2-1/2-year term, two people familiar with the matter said.
This financing would be backed by unsecuritized CIT assets, which probably exceed $10 billion, one of the sources said.
An announcement of the rescue had been expected as early as Monday morning but was delayed by regulatory issues, a person familiar with the matter said.
The various sources requested anonymity because the rescue talks are private.
A rescue would help CIT address a looming $1 billion bond payment due next month. Yet it would not necessarily restore longer-term confidence in the company, following a liquidity squeeze exacerbated by customers who drew down credit lines.
“An out-of-court restructuring is best,” said Jerry Reisman, a partner at Reisman, Peirez and Reisman LLP in Garden City, New York. “There will be a lot of vendors out there who would not make payments to CIT if it is in bankruptcy.”
CIT had sought emergency federal funding, but talks with the government broke down last week. The Obama administration appeared to draw a line as to how readily it would bail out troubled companies, following several big corporate bailouts over the last year.
Restructuring experts said CIT has some valuable businesses that could be acquired or survive as part of a scaled-down CIT, including its factoring business.
Factors buy receivables, or the right to receive money owed, from suppliers at a discount so that those suppliers can continue to have working capital. CIT gets paid back when retailers sell goods, typically within 90 days.
Retail industry groups last week urged U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to act to ensure CIT’s survival.
The bondholder rescue could preserve the government’s $2.33 billion investment in CIT from the Troubled Asset Relief Program. CIT became eligible for such financing when it became a bank holding company in December.
A rescue “comes as a great relief” for retailers preparing for the back-to-school and holiday shopping seasons, said Tracy Mullin, chief executive of the National Retail Federation.
“CIT could not be allowed to fail at a time when retailers are already struggling to survive,” she said in a statement.
Problems at CIT mushroomed two years ago in the wake of Chief Executive Jeffrey Peek’s decision earlier in the decade to expand into subprime mortgages and student loans.
Last week’s government decision not to provide aid surprised Peek, leading him to seek help from private investors, one of the people familiar with the matter said.
A bankruptcy would make CIT, with $75.7 billion of reported assets, the largest U.S. financial company to go bankrupt since Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc LEHMQ.PK last September.
CIT has about $40 billion of long-term debt, CreditSights said. It has lost close to $3.3 billion since the end of 2007.
The cost of insuring CIT debt against default declined with news of the rescue. On Monday, it cost $4.3 million upfront plus $500,000 annually to insure $10 million of CIT debt for five years, down from $4.45 million upfront on Friday, according to Phoenix Partners Group.
CIT debt maturing in three to five years yielded in the mid-20s to mid-30s percent, according to bond pricing service Trace.
The company has been scheduled to report second-quarter results on July 23. It was unclear how the bailout talks might affect the timing of that report.
Reporting by Jennifer Ablan, Paritosh Bansal, Chelsea Emery, Michael Erman, Joseph A. Giannone, Jessica Hall, John Parry, Ransdell Pierson and Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and John Wallace