By Joseph Checkler
NEW YORK--LightSquared on Wednesday said it reached a deal with its largest lender group that will allow the wireless satellite provider to use the cash secured by its loans, nearly 48 hours after a judge told the company and the investors to work out their differences.
Judge Shelley C. Chapman of U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan said she will read and review the changes to LightSquared's request to use the roughly $190 million in cash before deciding whether to approve it. The company satisfied the concerns of an ad hoc group of lenders owed $1.1 billion who were worried that they wouldn't be adequately protected in the case.
Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP's Matthew S. Barr, a lawyer for LightSquared, said the company will provide a budget of how it will use the money, as well as pay the lender group $6.25 million per month for fees and other expenses, with any leftover money going toward interest on the loans. The lenders had argued for those provisions in court papers, although they originally wanted about $8 million.
The lender group holds $1.1 billion of a $1.7 billion chunk of debt secured by all of LightSquared's assets and includes hedge-fund managers Appaloosa Management LP, Fortress Investment Group LLC (FIG) and Silver Point Capital LP.
Further details on the accord will be filed later Wednesday with the court, Mr. Barr said.
The lenders had balked at LightSquared's attempt to use the cash, citing concerns about the company's uncertain future after the Federal Communications Commission shot down the company's attempt to use broadband spectrum. In addition, the lenders will get 60 days to investigate whether it can purse claims against "nonaffiliates" of the company and a year to pursue claims against "affiliates." The latter almost certainly refers to Phil Falcone and his hedge-fund firm, Harbinger Capital Partners, which controls the company.
Earlier this week, LightSquared said it expects to file within a few days details of the debtor-in-possession, or DIP, loan it negotiated with a unit of U.S. Bancorp (USB), which represents a separate group of LightSquared's prebankruptcy lenders. That group holds more than $320 million in loans that are secured by the company's leases on some wireless spectrum and equity interest in that spectrum. The company on Wednesday said that it might also secure a DIP loan from the larger lender group.
LightSquared's stated goal of building a wireless broadband network that could provide satellite cellphone service to 260 million Americans by the end of 2015 was thrown into disarray when the FCC said the network could interfere with global-positioning systems. Already saddled with heavy debts, the company filed for bankruptcy protection last month.
Falcone and Harbinger own most of LightSquared's stock, having invested billions of dollars into a venture that sought to compete with communications heavyweights such as AT&T Inc. (T) and Verizon Wireless. But efforts to build a national network stalled as the FCC began to raise its issues.
The company plans to use the breathing room of Chapter 11 to resolve these regulatory issues, address its more than $2 billion debt load and raise new capital to build out its network.
(Dow Jones Daily Bankruptcy Review covers news about distressed companies and those under bankruptcy protection. Go to http://dbr.dowjones.com)
Write to Joseph Checkler at firstname.lastname@example.org.