Yellow, a Trucking Company, Vows to Repay $729 Million Loan to Federal Government
Bankruptcy Puts Yellow’s Ability to Repay in Doubt
Yellow, a trucking company that recently filed for bankruptcy protection, has stated that it plans to fully repay the $729 million it owes the federal government by selling off its warehouses, trucks, and other assets. However, with the trucking industry facing a downturn, Yellow may struggle to get maximum value for its assets.
Failure to repay the government in full would be a disappointing ending to a three-year financial saga that began during the pandemic. In 2020, the Trump administration provided financial assistance to Yellow, then known as YRC Worldwide, when the company was on the brink of collapse due to pre-existing financial difficulties.
Yellow’s most recent financial statements reveal that its liabilities exceeded its assets by nearly $450 million as of June. Nevertheless, the company remains confident in its ability to repay its debt to the government. The loan is due in September 2024.
The uncertainty surrounding the value of Yellow’s assets and whether they will be sufficient to repay the Treasury Department and private creditors does not come as a surprise to lawmakers and legal experts. Many have questioned the company’s business practices and the federal loan it received.
Lawmaker Expresses Concern Over Loan Security
Representative French Hill, a Republican from Arkansas and member of the Congressional Oversight Commission, expressed uncertainty about the potential repayment to taxpayers. He stated his belief that the loan provided inadequate security to protect taxpayer interests.
Management Blames Union and Analysts Blame Executives for Yellow’s Demise
Yellow’s management has placed blame on the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, claiming that the union hindered necessary operational changes. However, some analysts attribute Yellow’s downfall to executive mismanagement, including failures to effectively integrate acquired businesses over the past two decades.
Repayment Uncertainty and Treasury Department’s Position
A Treasury official declined to comment on whether the department expects to be fully repaid. Yellow has thus far paid approximately $67 million in interest on its $700 million loan, with only $230 of the principal repaid. As part of the loan agreement, some of the interest is added to the principal rather than paid annually.
The Treasury finds itself in a challenging position regarding Yellow’s bankruptcy. The first portion of the loan, around $300 million, was used for operational expenses and would be difficult to collateralize for repayment. The second portion, $400 million, was used to acquire tractors and trailers and can be directly claimed by the Treasury.
Selling the acquired equipment may not generate sufficient funds due to wear and tear and the depressed market. The sale of Yellow’s warehouse terminals, considered its most valuable asset, could potentially generate proceeds for the Treasury, but only after paying back other creditors with claims on these assets.
Yellow received its federal loan in 2020 as part of a program meant to support companies deemed critical to national security. The loan was included in a relief package passed by Congress in response to the pandemic. Yellow’s loan accounted for 95% of the loans granted for national security purposes, despite controversy surrounding the company’s eligibility.
The loan has faced scrutiny from federal watchdogs and lawmakers due to Yellow’s pre-existing financial struggles and its close ties to the Trump administration. Critics have argued that the company’s survival was not critical to national security.
Several other companies that received similar loans have also shown signs of distress. Eight out of 35 companies that received pandemic-era loans are in default. However, the amounts owed by these companies are significantly smaller than Yellow’s debt.
The Treasury holds a 31% stake in Yellow as part of the loan agreement. While shareholders typically receive nothing in bankruptcies, there is speculation that the sale of Yellow’s assets could potentially result in repayment of all debts, benefiting shareholders like MFN Partners, which has acquired a significant stake in the company.