In a move to buy time and stave off a possible default, troubled Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. is seeking an agreement with its lenders to extend the deadline for filing its already delayed annual report. But clinching a deal may not be easy, one analyst says.
The Laval, Que.-based drug giant's creditors are in a position to trigger a default situation on April 29 if the company fails to file its annual report, known as a 10-K, with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Valeant said on Wednesday that it is in talks to stretch the April 29 deadline to May 31 in the event it cannot meet the earlier reporting date. The company is also asking for an extension to July 31, from June 14, for the filing of its first-quarter report and seeking certain amendments to its covenants.
"In a situation where you have anxious creditors in the context of an inherently unstable business model and an ongoing investigation into broader accounting issues, I don't think you can assume that creditors will readily acquiesce to an extension," Piper Jaffray & Co. analyst David Ansellem said in an e-mail comment.
Justin Forlenza, an analyst at Covenant Review, said he believes there is room for compromise but that the creditors will play tough. "Given all the problems that have happened and where the company is now and the reduced guidance for next year, I wouldn't be surprised if the lenders use this as an opportunity to try and push back and extract tighter terms," he said in an interview.
"There is probably a sweet spot [Valeant] can get to with the lenders."
An amendment process such as the one being proposed by Valeant is not unusual "for heavily leveraged companies (but is normally viewed as a negative)," Mizuho Securities USA Inc. analyst Irina Koffler said in a research note. "In exchange, banks may typically ask for a higher interest expense, a wider spread, and higher fees on the principal balance."
The company's proposals must win the approval of holders of at least half of Valeant's outstanding loans.
Valeant, carrying $31-billion (U.S.) of debt, warned two weeks ago that it could be in breach of some of its debt covenants if it does not get some form of relief from creditors.
On Wednesday, it said it is not under any immediate threat to its financial health. "The company is comfortable with its current liquidity position and cash flow generation for the rest of the year, and remains well positioned to meet its obligations," Valeant said, adding that a special committee of the board has not identified any "additional items affecting the company financial statements."
Last month, Valeant disclosed it had discovered an error in the way revenue was booked that would require a restatement of earnings. The company is conducting an internal review of its accounting and financial reporting methods.
The company said on Wednesday that its ad hoc committee of the board "has continued to make progress and is now nearer to completion" of its work.
Valeant has been under fire for months over certain aspects of its business practices and the dramatic price hikes on some of its drugs.
Chief executive officer Michael Pearson is preparing to step down and has been subpoenaed to testify before a U.S. Senate committee next month. He has agreed to stay on until a replacement is found.
The company is also under investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
There "could be additional bombshells from Pearson's pending congressional testimony," Mizuho's Ms. Koffler warned in her note.