Hanley-Wood has just received a major financial reprieve through a debt-reduction deal. In a recapitalization plan, the company has reduced its long-term debt of $440 million to $80 million. As a result, Hanley Wood has a new ownership group led by Oaktree Capital Management, which has also injected $35 million of capital into the company.
Hanley Wood was acquired in 2005 by J.P. Morgan for $650 million.
Serving the residential and commercial construction markets, Hanley Wood, considered one of the best-run b-to-b media companies, was hit particularly hard during the economic downturn and has continued to struggle as the housing market has been one of the slowest to recover.
The new ownership group, which also consists of Strategic Value Partners and Tennenbaum Capital Partners, is betting the debt reduction and new capital will give the company some breathing room until the markets improve.
A deal of this nature is not a surprise. Observers have noted that the company would need to do something significant with its debt load.
Last year, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s both issued tough critiques of Hanley Wood. Moody’s in August warned that the company would have to pursue a restructuring or risk violating its loan covenants as of the first of this year, and in May Standard and Poor’s downgraded its rating of Hanley Wood from "CCC" to "CCC-" for the same reason.
Nevertheless, Hanley Wood CEO Frank Anton insisted the ratings had no effect on day-to-day operations. In August, the company said it had marginal improvements of high single-digit increases in revenues and a 20 percent increase in earnings in the first half of 2011. Yet these were off of a "very depressed base," said Anton at the time.
Later in the year, Hanley Wood shut down two magazines—Building Products and Big Builder—in an effort to "right size" its portfolio.
The company also announced a 2-year plan to shift to a digital-first editorial approach, which included the centralization of editorial resources at Hanley Wood’s Washington, DC headquarters.