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Debt ratings agency S&P Global Ratings on Thursday reduced AMC Entertainment’s credit ratings on liquidity concerns should the closure of the mega-exhibitor’s theaters amid the COVID-19 crisis continue deep into the summer.
The ratings agency said it expected AMC’s theaters to remain closed beyond June. “We do not believe AMC has sufficient sources of liquidity to cover its expected negative cash flows past mid-summer, and we believe the company will likely breach its 6x net senior secured leverage covenant when tested on Sept. 30, 2020, absent a waiver from its lenders,” S&P Global said in a ratings note.
The agency downgraded AMC’s credit rating to CCC-, from B, with a negative outlook. S&P Global Ratings on March 16 first said it would review AMC’s ratings amid the coronavirus pandemic for a potential downgrade.
That was after the exhibition giant unveiled a “50-50” policy through April 30 to limit attendance at movie screenings amid the coronavirus. But the U.S. market’s largest cinema chain closed all 600 of its stateside locations on March 17 as the coronavirus outbreak dramatically spread.
Then, on Tuesday, CEO Adam Aron told CNBC he believed the shuttered U.S. movie theaters may reopen by mid-June. S&P Global reduced AMC’s credit ratings even as it expected the exhibitor to attempt a debt restructuring.
“The company will likely pursue incremental financing through the CARES act or its lenders, but it is unclear when or if it will be able to secure additional liquidity,” the ratings agency said. Alternatively, AMC could use possible funds it secures through the U.S. government’s stimulus package in response to the coronavirus outbreak to reduce its borrowings and avoid a breach of its debt covenant.
AMC’s closing of all of its movie screens was followed by around 26,000 employees being furloughed or let go. That included all of its 600 corporate employees and CEO Aron.
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