J.C. Penney to hire advisors as it mulls options for debt: Bloomberg News

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FILE PHOTO: A J.C. Penney employee helps a customer with her purchase at the J.C. Penney department store in North Riverside, Illinois, U.S., November 17, 2017. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski/File Photo

(Reuters) – J.C. Penney Co Inc (JCP.N) has approached consulting firm AlixPartners LLP as the U.S. retailer looks at options for managing its debt, Bloomberg News reported on Tuesday, citing people with knowledge of the matter.

Brick-and-mortar retailers are struggling to keep up with the shift to online shopping, and the crisis has been exacerbated by the coronavirus outbreak which has forced them to shutter stores and furlough employees.

J.C. Penney has been in talks with lenders in recent weeks about its liquidity needs and negotiating a possible debt deal, the report said here

The retailer had $3.72 billion in borrowings as of Feb. 1, its latest annual filing showed, with cash and cash equivalents of $386 million. Its 2019 sales fell 8% to $10.72 billion from the previous year.

The company’s combined credit score, which measures on a scale of 100 to 1 how likely a company is to default on its debts in the next year, was “1”, according to Refinitiv Eikon data, indicating it was expected to default.

J.C. Penney and New York-headquartered AlixPartners were not available for comment outside of business hours.

Reuters reported last week that Macy’s Inc (M.N), the largest U.S. department store operator by sales, had hired investment bank Lazard Ltd (LAZ.N) to explore options for bolstering its finances.

Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.

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