Checkers Drive-In Restaurants on Tuesday said it has reached a deal with its lenders that will give them a majority stake in the company in exchange for a reduction in its overall level of debt.
As part of the deal, Checkers’ senior lenders Arbour Lane Capital Management, Garnett Station Partners and Guggenheim Investments will take over majority ownership of the company from the private equity firm Oak Hill Capital Partners.
As part of the agreement, Checkers’ long-term debt will be cut to $75 million from $300 million. The company will also receive an additional $25 million in debt financing to fund remodels and other efforts.
The restructuring follows months of talks between the company and its lenders about a debt restructuring. The deal enables Checkers to avoid a bankruptcy filing.
Checkers said in January that it was looking to refinance its debt, citing pressures from inflation on the company’s profitability in 2022. The drive-thru fast-food chain hired advisers, including the investment banker Miller Buckfire. Lenders in April gave Checkers more time to work out an agreement.
The agreement follows a roller-coaster ride for the chain over the past few years. The company was sold to Oak Hill in 2017 for $525 million. But sales plunged the next year, and going into 2020 the chain was facing a restructuring, given its high debt bill.
The pandemic made drive-thrus particularly popular, however, and sales took off in 2020. Oak Hill gave the company a $20 million cash injection in 2021. But inflation in 2022, and a return to normalcy, brought Checkers back down to earth.
Frances Allen called the restructuring “a positive development for the company and our stakeholders.” She said the deal “significantly strengthens our balance sheet” by converting its short-term debt maturities into equity. “The recapitalization provides us with the financial flexibility we need to better position ourselves to invest in and continue growing our business,” she said in a statement.
Checkers operates more than 800 locations under the Checkers and Rally’s brand names. System sales at Checkers rose 1.6% to $618 million last year. Rally’s sales grew 2.9% to $332 million, according to data from Restaurant Business sister company Technomic.
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