Sun, Jul 19, 2009 - Page 11 News List

CIT talks to top banks for new financial support

RISK OF BANKRUPTCY Analysts said the troubled lender’s demise would not have as wide-ranging an impact as the collapse of Lehman last September


CIT Group Inc is in talks with JPMorgan Chase & Co and Goldman Sachs Group Inc about short-term financing as it looks for ways to avoid bankruptcy, a source close to the company said on Friday.

Bankruptcy, however, is still possible over the next few days, and CIT, a 101-year-old lender that services nearly 1 million small and mid-sized businesses, is continuing to talk with regulators about the situation, the source said.

Financing talks have turned primarily to arranging for a debtor-in-possession (DIP) loan for the lender in case of a bankruptcy, CNBC reported, adding that talks were also continuing for financing out of court.

JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley were in talks with other banks about a DIP loan, Bloomberg reported.

CIT bondholders were scheduled to hold another conference call yesterday, a source in the lender’s bondholder group said.

“They haven’t thrown the towel, and they still are trying to work very hard to get some sort of funding, but at the end of the day I still think that there is a very high risk of a bankruptcy event,” said Sameer Gokhale, an analyst at KBW.

CIT is in search of US$2 billion to US$3 billion in financing, said the source, who declined to be identified because the talks were private. The company is also in talks with bondholders about a debt for equity swap, the source said.

But the source in the bondholders’ group said many bondholders were pursuing a “debt for new debt” exchange and that a debt for equity exchange was not a real consideration.

The first source added one potential scenario was a sale of some assets to raise capital. The lender had wanted regulators’ permission to transfer assets to its bank unit, but that did not happen, the source said.

“It is just going to allow them to pass the next 30 to 60 days, but they have exhausted their balance sheet condition so fast that it was kind of breathtaking,” said Keith Wirtz, president and chief investment officer of Fifth Third Asset Management.

The company sought additional help even after gaining the status of bank holding company in December so it could draw US$2.33 billion of taxpayer money from the Treasury’s Troubled Asset Relief Program.

But the administration of US President Barack Obama declined help, saying it had set high standards for granting aid to companies and leaving private investors as the one alternative to avoid collapse.

The impact of CIT’s demise would likely pale by comparison with the collapse of investment bank Lehman Brothers Inc last September, analysts said.

“If they can’t survive, the market will resolve this for them and move on. I don’t see massive systematic disruptions if CIT will not exist three months from now,” Wirtz said.

Still, the ripples of a collapse could be widespread and worsen the effects of the economic downturn for some firms.

CIT has about US$40 billion of long-term debt, said independent research firm CreditSights. About US$1.1 billion of debt will come due next month, followed by about US$2.5 billion by year end.

The New York Post reported JPMorgan could acquire CIT’s factoring unit, which finances more than US$50 billion of wholesale inventory, at a time of the year when the collapse of the lender could disrupt retailers holidays plans.

CIT declined to comment and JPMorgan was not available for comment.

This story has been viewed 3261 times.

Comments will be moderated. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned.

TOP top