Guitar Center Files for Bankruptcy

WESTLAKE VILLAGE (CNS) - Westlake Village-based Guitar Center, the country's largest retailer of instruments and musical equipment, joined a growing list of companies impacted by the economic toll of the COVID-19 pandemic by filing for bankruptcy, according to media reports.

Guitar Center has about 300 stores across the U.S., and its sisterbrands include Music & Arts, which has more than 200 stores specializing in band and orchestral instruments for sale and rent, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday.

The filing in the Eastern District of Virginia gives the company a break on its debts by letting it stay in business as it seeks to carry out a restructuring plan, the Times reported.

According to the report, a restructuring support agreement announced Nov. 13 requires new financing backed by existing creditors, in addition to $165 million in new equity investments from its parent company, Ares Management Corp., as well as the Carlyle Group and Brigade Capital Management.

Moody's Investor Service explained that the coronavirus shutdown has hit nonessential retailers hard, and Guitar Center was particularly vulnerable because musical instruments are a highly discretionary purchase.

The company's stores were shut down in mid-March when the pandemic began in earnest. Since then, the Times reported, it has reopened some locations while maintaining online operations.

Guitar Center claims it has liabilities of between $1 billion and $10 billion, with a similar range for its assets, the court filing stated.

Ares acquired the company in 2014 in an out-of-court restructuring of Guitar Center's substantial debt load, the result of a deal by Bain Capital LP in 2007 to take it private.

Photo: Getty Images

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