(Bloomberg) -- A group of creditors angling for control of PG&E Corp. is pushing to scuttle the bankrupt utility’s $31 billion restructuring plan.
An ad hoc committee of unsecured lenders filed a motion to terminate the period of exclusivity that PG&E has to file a plan for emerging from Chapter 11, according to a court filing Tuesday. That period ends on Sept 26. While it is in effect nobody else can submit a reorganization plan.
The creditor group, led by Pacific Investment Management Co., Elliott Management Corp. and Davidson Kempner Capital Management, wants to end it now so they can put forth their own plan that would see the California power company emerge from bankruptcy by the end of 2019 or shortly after. That plan would inject up to $30 billion of new money into PG&E.
"The need to exit bankruptcy expeditiously is paramount," the creditors said in the filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in San Francisco. "It has been five months since the petition date, and a new wildfire season has already begun."
PG&E rose as much as 2.5% on the news. The shares gained 1.2% to $21.92 at 1:51 p.m. in New York, giving the company a market value of about $11.6 billion.
In an emailed statement, PG&E said it was committed to work with its stakeholders through the Chapter 11 process to resolve 2017-2018 wildfire claims and develop a “more sustainable business model.”
The creditor request is the latest twist in the biggest utility bankruptcy in U.S. history. California politicians, creditors, activist investors, wildfire victims and others have all piled into the case since PG&E declared Chapter 11 in January to deal with an estimated $30 billion in damages tied to wildfires that its equipment ignited.
The creditor group indicated last month that it would push to end the exclusivity period early, saying in a hearing that the company’s lengthy process to replace its board had slowed its exit from bankruptcy protection.
Their reorganization plan would provide up to $30 billion in new money and introduce major changes. They’re also proposing to give PG&E a new name: Golden State Power Light & Gas Co.
PG&E would bring in an outside management team, “top-tier” utility or energy holding company to run its operations, according to the filing. The new management may have the opportunity to invest in the reorganized utility.
Their plan proposes a new board with no more than 11 members. The majority would be appointed by shareholders. Employees, PG&E customers and the future wildfire fund would appoint one representative each.
In addition, the plan calls for the sale of up to $1 billion in real estate, with the proceeds providing a customer rate credit over ten years. It would also prohibit the utility from transferring any part of its system to municipal ownership for five years. This would potentially block San Francisco’s efforts to take over PG&E’s distribution system.
The plan includes a trust of up to $18 billion to resolve past wildfire claims under certain conditions as well as contributions of $4 billion from PG&E for a statewide future wildfire fund. The creditors’ plan wouldn’t reject any of the company’s renewable energy contracts.
The plan would be funded by $18 billion in cash from the investor group, $2.2 billion in insurance proceeds and the issuance of about $9.5 billion of debt.
"The ad hoc committee is willing to fund the reorganized company with fresh equity, which will restore strong investment grade credit metrics so PG&E can once again access low cost capital going forward for all of its necessary long-term infrastructure," the group said.
In Chapter 11 cases, companies typically have an exclusive period of time to devise a reorganization plan. While it’s unusual for a court to terminate it, that happened when the company’s utility -- Pacific Gas & Electric Co. -- went through bankruptcy in the early 2000s.
That case was overseen by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Dennis Montali, who is also overseeing the current reorganization.
In May, Montali said he ended the exclusivity in PG&E’s previous reorganization after a viable, competing proposal surfaced.
The creditor group has asked him to consider approving their request in late July.
The creditors’ plan would counter PG&E’s own reorganization plan, which would see it emerge from bankruptcy in March. That plan calls for a $14 billion fund to be established to address past wildfire claims and another $20 billion statewide fund for future fires.
(Adds PG&E comment in sixth paragraph.)
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