Los Angeles Business Journal

Ares, Wells Make Deals With Guitar Center

By Deborah Crowe Friday, April 4, 2014

Guitar Center has announced deals with debtor Ares Management and lender Wells Fargo Capital Finance that the Westlake Village-based music retailer said puts it in a significantly stronger financial position.

Affiliates of Los Angeles investment adviser Ares exchanged part of the Guitar Center debt it holds for preferred stock, Ares announced Thursday, becoming the company’s controlling owner. Affiliates of Bain Capital will retain partial ownership of the company. Guitar Center's total debt has been cut by $500 million, with cash interest expense reduced by more than $70 million a year.

Wells Fargo Capital Finance announced Friday it acted as lead arranger and book runner on a $325 million secured credit facility that Guitar Center will use for working capital and general corporate purposes.

Guitar Center sells musical instruments and recording equipment and offers repair services and rehearsal space at many of its 250 stores. Bain led a $2.1 billion leveraged buyout of the company in 2007. The retailer still had $1.6 billion in debt before the Ares deal.

“This new capital structure is the culmination of a lot of hard work over the last year,” Chief Executive Mike Pratt said in a statement in the Ares announcement. “We now have the necessary resources to expand our footprint and to invest in our people, stores and product assortment.”