By Jessica DiNapoli
June 16 (Reuters) - U.S. fashion retailer J. Crew Group Inc has won the support of more than 50 percent of its term loan holders for a deal to trim its $2.1 billion debt load and push back deadlines to repay some of it by two years, the company said on Friday.
The deal spares the New York-based company the fate of several of its retail peers that have filed for bankruptcy in the last 12 months amid fast-changing consumer tastes and the increasing popularity of internet shopping.
To achieve the deal, J. Crew has outmaneuvered opposition from some of its lenders to placing its brand in a separate company to raise new debt by relying on the support of other creditors, in a strategy first reported last month by Reuters.
J. Crew placed its intellectual property in a new subsidiary that will issue $250 million in new debt, which will be used to buy back existing bonds. These bonds currently have a nominal value of $567 million, so the swap will almost halve the burden of the bonds for J. Crew.
Some J. Crew lenders opposed that move on the grounds that it removes collateral from the main company. They threatened to say the retailer defaulted, prompting J. Crew itself to file a pre-emptive lawsuit against them.
The deal on Friday resolves this issue, because, by obtaining the support of more than 50 percent of the holders of its $1.5 billion term loan, J. Crew can secure a waiver to any legal challenge to the carve-out of its intellectual property.
In return, J. Crew offered to retire $150 million of its term loan at par, financed with some new debt and cash from the private-equity owners.
The deal already had support from major creditors GSO Capital Partners LP, the credit arm of buyout fund Blackstone Group LP, and hedge fund Anchorage Capital Group LLC, which bought 28 percent of the term loan and 67 percent of the bonds.
Sales of J. Crew, which attracted a cult following for its preppy apparel, have slipped as the company began offering funkier clothing and accessories.
The retailer last week named West Elm President James Brett as chief executive, replacing Millard Drexler, who will remain on as chairman. (Reporting by Jessica DiNapoli in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler)