HMH Restructuring Debt

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, one of the oldest and largest book publishers in the U.S., is once again looking to rework its debt.  HMH is still struggling with heavy debt despite an earlier restructuring.  In an announcement May 11, the company said it had reached an agreement with the majority of its lenders that will eliminate $3.1 billion of debt and reduce its annual interest payments by about $250 million.  As part of the restructuring, HMH will file for prepackaged Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the United States Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York within 10 days.  It hopes to be out of bankruptcy by the end of June.

In a letter to employees, CEO Linda Zecher said there are no plans for layoffs and that vendors and suppliers will be paid in full.  “This process will have no impact on our day-to-day operations.  We will continue normal business operations, now and throughout the process.  We expect there will be no disruption to our relationships with our employees, customers, business partners, suppliers or vendors,” Zecher wrote.

Although more detailed financial information isn’t available, Zecher said HMH has sufficient cash and liquidity to continue normal operations with more than $135 million of cash on hand and a commitment for $500 million in financing from Citigroup Global Markets Inc. to be used during the bankruptcy process.  The company had total sales in 2011 of $1.3 billion.

Under terms of the restructuring plan, HMH will convert its existing bank and bond debt into 100% of the equity in the reorganized company.  The restructuring plan is subject to court approval.

Zecher tried to remain upbeat about HMH’s future.  “I am excited about our future and my goal is to transform HMH into a company dedicated to fostering passionate, curious learners by combining the best media and technology with HMH’s publishing heritage.  We have made good progress in realigning our business and operations around this goal and many of you have been – and continue to be – terrific contributors in this effort.  We have outstanding people and products, and a bright future ahead of us.  I look forward to reporting to you on our progress in the coming weeks.”

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