LOS ANGELES — An end may be in sight for the two-year old bankruptcy of the Las Vegas Monorail Co., albeit at a steep price for bondholders.
If first-tier bondholders vote in favor of the monorail’s fifth amended reorganization plan, they would be paid $13 million of the $451.4 million they are owed.
A judge could be hearing arguments on the latest exit plan as soon as April 30.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Bruce Markell approved a disclosure statement on Friday allowing a vote by first-tier holders on the rail operator’s latest reorganization plan. The judge required minor wording changes on the fourth amended plan, transforming it into the fifth amended plan that bondholders have until April 23 to vote on.
Bondholders with lower-tier debt, owed $207.2 million, will get nothing under the plan.
The monorail, structured as a nonprofit enterprise, issued $650 million of tax-exempt revenue bonds in 2000 through the Nevada Department of Business and Industry to build the 3.9-mile line linking several of the city’s largest hotels.
It filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January 2010 after its ticket revenue fell far short of debt service requirements. Ambac Assurance Corp., the insurer of the monorail’s senior debt, filed for bankruptcy a few months later.
The monorail, which is trying to get out of bankruptcy and pursue expansion of its line, continued to struggle last year. One of the resorts along its pathway, the Sahara Hotel, closed last year, causing ridership to drop and leading to a loss of about $800,000 in fares for the second half of 2011, according to court documents.
Markell rejected the third amended plan on Nov. 18 even though 97% of the bondholders voted in favor of it. He ruled that the monorail could not afford the debt it planned to take on to repay bondholders and that he could not approve a plan that could result in liquidation or the need for further reorganization.
Under the proposal rejected by the judge, the rail operator planned to issue $40 million in face amount of debt to holders of the $450 million of first-tier bonds through three debt instruments: cash-pay bonds, capital expenditure bonds, and capital appreciation bonds.
Under the new plan, the monorail operator ratcheted back expansion plans, in addition to proposing to repay less debt. It agreed to adopt a capital expenditure forecast through 2055 and contribute net project revenues into a reserve account to fund projected capital expenditures after funding operations and debt service are paid, the filing stated.
The fifth amended plan offers first-tier secured bondholders $10 million with interest at 5.5% annually and a default rate of 7.5%, according to court documents. Unsecured first-tier bondholders would receive $3 million with 3% annual interest until Dec. 31, 2015, and 5.5% interest after that until maturity on June 30, 2055.
A few days after Markell’s November ruling, Ambac reached a settlement agreement with bondholders to purchase the outstanding first-tier bonds, according to a disclosure filing on the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board’s EMMA site.
The offer ranged from $81.68 to $247.34 per $1,000 principal amount of its $325.5 million current interest bonds and $1,000 accreted value at final maturity on the $273.4 million of capital appreciation bonds.
Under the agreement, the first-tier bondholders, 83% of whom participated in the tender offer, retain their rights under the rail operator’s plan of reorganization, the filing stated.