That’s about it for Pinetree Capital

History: Pinetree Capital previous postings (link here).

January 23, 2015 was the date that Pinetree Capital (TSX: PNP) had to cure a covenant breach of its debt-to-assets ratio (being 33% or less). Unfortunately for them, they failed to obtain a waiver or apparently cure the default.

Before the ordinary time of opening, IIROC put a trading halt with news pending. There hasn’t been any news published so it would lead one to believe that management has failed to cure the breach.

Section 8.1 of the indenture states:

8.1 Events of Default

(x) in each and every such event listed above, the Trustee may, in its discretion, and shall, upon receipt of a request in writing signed by the holders of not less than 25% in aggregate principal amount of the Debentures then outstanding, subject to the provisions of Section 8.3, by notice in writing to the Company declare the principal of and interest on all Debentures then outstanding and all other monies outstanding hereunder to be due and payable and the same shall thereupon forthwith become immediately due and payable to the Trustee.

One can presume that given the rather speedy notice that was given to the company of the default that the trustee is going to get notified of this breach fairly quickly and on the first business day, January 26, 2015, the principal and interest will become due immediately. Since there is an event of default occurring, the company cannot trigger the common share conversion feature.

My guess at this point is that the trading halt will continue until Pinetree officially declares itself unable to pay its debenture and goes into CCAA. Then TSX rules will suspend trading and eventually delist the company. The subsequent proceeding will involve the bankruptcy trustee being instructed by its creditors (the bulk of which are the debenture holders of which the major players will form a committee) to liquidate and put an end to the terminally ill patient.

My other observation is that Pinetree Capital management should have received the hint back in 2013 that they needed to reduce debt by purchasing debentures off the open market while they were given a 9-month grace period by its debtholders. They instead went recklessly purchasing other penny stock securities and ultimately got what they deserved.

My other guess is that behind the scenes the debtholders told management the only condition they will accept for a waiver is a complete overhaul of the board of directors and management. Clearly management did not agree, nor is it in management’s best interest to re-capitalize their company with fresh equity (i.e. cash) since this cash would most likely end up in debtholders’ hands.

I originally thought management had better self-preservation instincts, but apparently even this was too much for them to handle.

Skimming their last quarterly report (September 30, 2014), we have the following entry:

For the nine months ended September 30, 2014, the Company generated net realized losses on disposal of investments of $334,412, as compared to $14,921 for the nine months ended September 30, 2013. The net realized losses in the current period was a result of the disposition of approximately 68% of the Company’s investment portfolio.

Realize these numbers are in the thousands, so just in the first nine months alone they managed to go through 1/3rd of a billion in realized losses (a lot of which I am sure have been on their books for ages). They also have another $118 million in unrealized losses their portfolio, which will inevitably get liquidated for less than fair value as stated on their financial statements.

My idea for Pinetree’s inevitable exit strategy was that they would sell their corporation off to some hedge fund actually capable of making money. The acquiring fund could use Pinetree’s accrued capital losses as a massive tax shield. There are quite complex rules concerning CCAA (if things get there) and utilization of operating and capital losses that I will not get into this post about, but suffice to say, my original idea for their exit strategy has not materialized.

Somebody give me management’s $1 million a year salary job and I’ll do better, I promise. Heck, I’ll do it for a 10th of that with a bit of an equity incentive.

2 thoughts on “That’s about it for Pinetree Capital”

  1. Following this one as well but their weir related party transaction always strike me as a big red flag which prevented me from pulling the trigger on this.
    If some hedge fund buy them for the tax shield, safe to say debt holder will be paid back in full? What’s the estimate of the recovery in the event this wind up in CCAA.

  2. I agree that the news is likely to be very bad. My only remaining concern is that the assets to be liquidated will cover repayment of the debentures. Odd that PNP suspended monthly reporting of their NAV pending the year end audit. It could be the Trustee lost faith in PNPs monthly reporting. The market has clearly questioned the NAV as witnessed by the on going share price discount. The salient point here is the illiquid nature of the investments and what do you actually realize if you need to liquidate. Who knows but it looks like we are going to find out. Unless management has some sort of Hail Mary plan, this one is over and we wait for CCAA to take its course.

    Neil J

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