Centerline Holding Company, headed by Related Companies bigwig (and REBNY chairman) Stephen Ross, may not be able to meet its short-term debt obligations, according to this morning’s Wall Street Journal, which cited a Moody’s Investment Services report that further cut Centerline’s credit rating.
The move comes as the credit-market turmoil, coupled with the weakening commercial real-estate market, has severely hurt Centerline’s business of lending to owners and developers of office, retail, multifamily and other types of properties. A potential default by Centerline would also deal a blow to Mr. Ross, who made an equity infusion in Centerline in December 2007. Mr. Ross’s company, Related Cos., is the largest shareholder of Centerline. He didn’t return a call seeking comment.
Moody’s, which downgraded the company’s rating to B1 from Ba3, said in a news release that it believes Centerline’s "liquidity resources may not be adequate for meeting its near term needs." In particular, the credit-rating firm noted that Centerline must repay in full a term loan by Dec. 31.
The $109 million loan, which matures in December, requires the company to pay it off through periodic payments. By the end of August, Centerline had paid it down to $75 million. The company then had about $50 million of total liquidity, including cash and revolving credit lines.
Centerline president Mark Schnitzer told the Journal, "We fully expect to repay all our debt obligations as they come due."