For the past few weeks we’ve been bombarded with information on the most popular aspects of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, but the Federal Reserve took additional steps to bolster the economy with the Main Street Lending Program (MSLP). Designed to further assist small and medium-sized businesses this program provides liquidity during the coronavirus crisis. The MSLP enables new financing of eligible term loans from eligible lenders to eligible businesses by making an extra $2.3 trillion in loans available. As with the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), businesses should reach out to their banks or lenders to apply for one of these loans. However, we need to mention that for now the minimum loan size is $1 million and the interest rate is expected to be higher than that of PPP loans.

Businesses will need to attest that they require financing due to COVID-19 and have made efforts in the areas of retaining employees as well as maintaining payroll during the term of the loan. An important stipulation of the use of the loan is that the borrower may not use proceeds to repay or refinance pre-existing loans. Small businesses that participate in the PPP may also take advantage of the Main Street Program.

The MSLP will enhance support for eligible borrowers that were in good financial standing before the crisis by offering four-year loans to companies employing up to 10,000 workers or with revenues of less than $2.5 billion. Interest rates on this unsecured debt will be based on the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) plus 2.5% to 4%, depending on the credit risk. SOFR is a newer benchmark that is due to replace the London Inter-Bank Offered Rate (LIBOR) next year.

Amortization of principal and interest is deferred for one year (the amortization schedule for an eligible loan is not otherwise specified in the term sheets released by the Federal Reserve). Eligible lenders (banks) may originate new MSLP loans or use them to increase the size of existing loans to businesses.

Prepayment is permitted without penalty and there is a 1% loan origination fee based on the principal amount of the loan. However, unlike the PPP, these loans contain no provisions for forgiveness.

The borrower must agree to not use the proceeds of the loan to repay other loan balances and concur that it will not seek to cancel or reduce any of its outstanding lines of credit with the lender or any other lender.

There are compensation restrictions in that until one year after the loan is repaid, no officer or employee of the business whose calendar year 2019 total compensation exceeded $425,000 receives from the business total compensation that exceeds during any consecutive 12-month period the total compensation received by that person in 2019. Additionally, severance pay or other termination benefits cannot exceed two times the maximum compensation received by that person in 2019.  Lastly, no officer or employee of the business whose total compensation exceeded $3 million in calendar year 2019 may receive during any consecutive 12-month period total compensation in excess of $3 million plus or 50% of the compensation over $3 million of total compensation received from the business in calendar year 2019.

The good news is that banks are already seeking changes as the Federal Reserve finalizes the MSLP in order to expand eligibility. The feedback has been for new enhancements that make the program workable for lenders as this would get the funds into the real economy quickly. The program’s $1 million minimum loan size appears to be too large and will exclude many small businesses that need to borrow a smaller amount while a minimum of $100,000 seems more appropriate. Calls have been made to reduce the floor to $50,000. As some lenders have yet to adopt to SOFR, those lenders want to use LIBOR or other benchmarks.

Further, other industry groups have made requests to include more flexibility on the duration of the loans allowed and the maximum size of the loan, as well as giving lenders more discretion as how to supervise capital distribution restrictions that are imposed on borrowers as a condition of the loan.

The Czar Beer team is dedicated to providing timely, accurate information on all aspects of the the current economic crisis that affect our clients. However, as this is all developing quickly we are here to offer support in any way we can. You can email us at info@czarbeer.com or call 212 397 2970 with any questions you may have.