Lender Capmark Financial Group Files for Bankruptcy

Capmark Financial Group Inc., the lender owned by companies including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and KKR & Co., filed for bankruptcy protection after posting a second-quarter loss of about $1.6 billion.

The company listed consolidated debt of $21 billion and consolidated assets of $20.1 billion as of June 30, according to Chapter 11 documents filed yesterday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Delaware. Forty-three affiliates also sought protection.

Capmark, based in Horsham, Pennsylvania, is one of the largest U.S. commercial real estate finance companies, with more than $10 billion in originations, according to Moody’s Investors Service. The company, formerly known as GMAC Commercial Holding Corp., services more than $360 billion of debt. It has struggled as the default rate on commercial mortgages held by U.S. banks more than doubled to the highest since 1994.

“The Capmark bankruptcy reinforces that, in the case of institutions with large concentrations in commercial real estate, current disruptions to the market have the potential to impact their viability,” said Sam Chandan, president and chief economist of Real Estate Econometrics LLC, a commercial real estate consulting firm in Manhattan.

Capmark asked a bankruptcy judge to approve the sale of its loan-servicing and mortgage business to Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and Leucadia National Corp. for as much as $490 million. Higher bids would be sought at an auction. The deal was announced Sept. 2, the same day Capmark said it might file for bankruptcy.

‘Saved or Sold’

“All the businesses will be saved and continue with Capmark or will be sold as going concerns for full value,” attorney Martin Bienenstock, a partner at Dewey & LeBoeuf LLC in New York, which is handling the bankruptcy case, said in an e-mail.

Capmark provides mortgage financing and portfolio management services for investors in apartment buildings, offices, industrial property, shopping centers and malls. Unlike real estate investment trusts, Capmark’s core business isn’t holding property, according to its Web site.

Capmark and its units owe $7.1 billion to the 30 largest creditors without collateral backing their claims, according to court documents.

The three biggest are Citibank NA, as administrative agent under the $5.5 billion credit agreement, with a claim of $4.6 billion; Deutsche Bank Trust Co. Americas, as trustee for the 5.875 percent senior notes and the floating senior notes due 2010, with claims of $1.2 billion and $637.5 million, respectively; and Wilmington Trust FSB, as successor trustee for the 6.3 percent senior notes due 2017, with a claim of $500 million, according to court papers.

Late Payments

Capmark filed for bankruptcy following a drop in revenue from loan origination, servicing and its portfolio, said Chandan, who is also an adjunct professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

As of June 30, $4 billion in loans were late by 60 days or more, out of a total portfolio of $24.1 billion in securitized or owned mortgages, according to Capmark’s most recent quarterly report. That was up from late payments on $1.52 billion in loans out of a $26.9 billion portfolio as of Dec. 31.

Commercial property values in the U.S. have plunged since 2007 as employers cut jobs and the recession reduced demand for offices, retail space and rental apartments. The Moody’s/REAL Commercial Property Price Indices fell 3 percent in August from July, bringing the decline to almost 41 percent since October 2007, Moody’s Investors Service said Oct. 19.

Unleased Space

U.S. office vacancies are at a five-year high, apartment vacancies are at a 23-year record, and retail centers are showing the greatest share of empty store-fronts since 1992, according to real estate research firm Reis Inc. All that unleased space makes it harder for landlords to pay their mortgages to lenders such as Capmark.

Property investors including New York developer Harry Macklowe, whose trophies included Manhattan’s General Motors Building, and Tishman Speyer Properties LP, which controls the Chrysler Building and Rockefeller Center, are being affected by plunging values and a dearth of credit.

Losses from commercial real-estate lending pose the biggest threat to U.S. banks as the loans deteriorate, leaders of Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and Office of Thrift Supervision told the Senate Banking Committee earlier this month.

Capmark had its senior unsecured ratings lowered to C from Caa1 by Moody’s Investors Service Inc. after the announcement of the potential sale, release of the operating results and restructuring efforts, according to a Sept. 9 credit opinion published by Moody’s.

‘Substantial Losses’

“Unsecured lenders and bondholders, either in a default or restructuring scenario, would experience substantial losses,” Moody’s said.

KKR, the New York-based private-equity company run by Henry Kravis and George Roberts, wrote the investment in Capmark down to zero as of March 31 of this year, according to data provided by KKR’s publicly traded investment vehicle.

Andrea Raphael, a spokeswoman for Goldman Sachs, declined to comment on the status of her firm’s investment in Capmark.

The case is In re Capmark Financial Group Inc., 09-13684, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

Reference:
Bloomberg – October 26, 2009
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