After announcing a $6 billion loan offer to ailing CIT, Carl Icahn, one of the firm’s bondholders and a longtime corporate rattler, has begun putting a fine point on his plans for the struggling lender. Icahn, who has denounced CIT’s management and its restructuring plan as unfair to small bondholders, said he will pay bondholders 60 cents on the dollar in exchange for their rejection of CIT’s debt restructuring plan. For its part, the company has been trying to swat back its near-term debt maturities to the tune of some $5.7 billion and has been urging bondholders to swap existing debt for new debt and stock.
In an interview with the New York Post, Icahn said that his plan would involve propping up CIT’s bank and spinning off a separate management team to run it, saying:
“You would have an infinitely better chance at getting bank approval with new owners than these guys do.”
As CIT battles to avoid bankruptcy, the holiday retail season fast approaches and CIT is a main lender to some 1 million small and medium size businesses. As such it has been the biggest player in factoring – a form of debt financing used by those businesses that are unable to secure traditional loans or credit lines. This allows companies to sell their receivables at a discount in return for cash. A number of suppliers and manufacturers such as apparel makers deploy factoring as way to hold them over until retailers pay.
It will be interesting to see how CIT’s woes will impact retail sales that have already taken a hard hit due to the anemic economy.