Posts Tagged ‘Bankruptcy’

Nationalize the Clearinghouses!

Posted by June Rhee, Co-editor, HLS Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, on Friday August 8, 2014 at 9:00 am
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Editor’s Note: The following post comes to us from Stephen J. Lubben, Harvey Washington Wiley Chair in Corporate Governance & Business Ethic at Seton Hall University School of Law.

A clearinghouse reduces counterparty risks by acting as the hub for trades amongst the largest financial institutions. For this reason, Dodd-Frank’s seventh title, the heart of the law’s regulation of OTC derivatives, requires that most derivatives trade through clearinghouses.

The concentration of trades into a very small number of clearinghouses or CCPs has obvious risks. To maintain the vitality of clearinghouses, Congress thus enacted the eighth title of Dodd-Frank, which allows for the regulation of key “financial system utilities.” In plain English, a financial system utility is either a payment system—like FedWire or CHIPS—or a clearinghouse.

But given the vital place of clearinghouses in Dodd-Frank, it is perhaps surprising that Dodd-Frank makes no provision for the failure of a clearinghouse. Indeed, it is arguable that the United States is not in compliance with its commitment to the G-20 on this point.

…continue reading: Nationalize the Clearinghouses!

Make-Whole Provisions Continue to Cause Controversy

Posted by Yaron Nili, Co-editor, HLS Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, on Sunday August 3, 2014 at 9:00 am
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Editor’s Note: The following post comes to us from Michael Friedman, Partner in the Banking Group and in the Litigation, Bankruptcy and Restructuring Group at Chapman and Cutler LLP, and is based on a Chapman publication by Mr. Friedman and Craig M. Price.

Given today’s low interest rate environment, the enforceability of make-whole provisions has been the subject of intense litigation as debtors seek to redeem and refinance debt entered into during periods of higher interest rates, and investors seek to maintain their contractual rates of return. This trend has come to the forefront most recently in two separate cases, one filed in Delaware and the other in New York. In Energy Future Holdings, the first-lien and second-lien indenture trustees have each initiated separate adversary proceedings in Delaware bankruptcy court claiming the power company’s plan to redeem and refinance its outstanding debt entitles the respective holders to hundreds of millions of dollars in make-whole payments. [1] Conversely, In MPM Silicones, LLC, it is the debtors that have sought a declaratory judgment from the New York bankruptcy court that, on account of an automatic acceleration upon the bankruptcy filing, no make-whole payment is required to be paid. [2] Given the frequency which make-whole disputes have arisen and the enormous sums at stake, it is important for all investors to understand the various arguments for and against payment of a make-whole premium, and the specific issues to look for when analyzing debt containing make-whole provisions. Despite the various legal arguments that exist, the single most important factor will always be the specific language of the applicable credit agreement or indenture.

…continue reading: Make-Whole Provisions Continue to Cause Controversy

Court Holds That US Bankruptcy Code Does Not Permit Recovery of Extraterritorial Transfers

Editor’s Note: George T. Conway III is partner in the Litigation Department at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz. The following post is based on a Wachtell Lipton firm memorandum authored by Mr. Conway, Douglas K. Mayer, and Emil A. Kleinhaus.

In a decision that could significantly limit the power of U.S. bankruptcy trustees to challenge cross-border transactions, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York has held that the trustee overseeing the Madoff liquidation may not recover transfers made by Madoff’s foreign customers to other foreign entities. SIPC v. Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, No. 12-mc-115 (S.D.N.Y. July 7, 2014). The court held that recovery of such “purely foreign” transfers would run afoul of the presumption against extraterritoriality reaffirmed by the Supreme Court in Morrison v. National Australia Bank.

…continue reading: Court Holds That US Bankruptcy Code Does Not Permit Recovery of Extraterritorial Transfers

Two New Cases Cast a Shadow Over Credit Bidding

Posted by Kobi Kastiel, Co-editor, HLS Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, on Sunday July 13, 2014 at 9:00 am
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Editor’s Note: The following post comes to us from Marshall S. Huebner, partner and co-head of the Insolvency and Restructuring Group at Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, and is based on an article by Damian S. Schaible and Darren S. Klein that first appeared the New York Law Journal; the full article, including footnotes, is available here.

Two recent bankruptcy court decisions have increased uncertainty over the right of secured creditors to credit bid in sales of debtors’ assets. Relying on and expanding a rarely used “for cause” limitation on a secured creditor’s right to credit bid under §363(k) of the Bankruptcy Code, these decisions may ultimately affect credit bidding rights in a broad swath of cases.

…continue reading: Two New Cases Cast a Shadow Over Credit Bidding

The Prevalence and Utility of “Roadmap” Decisions in Bankruptcy Mega-Cases

Posted by Kobi Kastiel, Co-editor, HLS Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, on Sunday July 6, 2014 at 9:00 am
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Editor’s Note: The following post comes to us from Marshall S. Huebner, partner and co-head of the Insolvency and Restructuring Group at Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, and is based on an article by Mr. Huebner and Elliot Moskowitz that first appeared in Financier Worldwide.

As the pace of Chapter 11 filings jumped in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, bankruptcy courts found their resources increasingly stretched. The number of Chapter 11 “mega-cases”—that is, cases that involve $100m or more in assets, over 1000 entities and/or a high degree of public interest—placed significant strain on the nation’s bankruptcy courts. Many of these cases involve numerous creditors and, given the stakes, litigation that has the potential to drag on for years. Against this backdrop, bankruptcy judges have developed a variety of strategies to foster the efficient resolution of such cases. Mediation is becoming a regular feature of contentious mega-cases, and judges are frequently urging parties to resolve their disputes. Where a compromise is not possible and litigation is unavoidable, judges have increasingly issued “roadmap” decisions that deny relief but provide a specific list of steps that need to be taken or changes to be made that will yield judicial approval. These decisions encourage parties to recalibrate their positions based on the court’s views on the matter, engage in productive negotiations, and quickly come to an agreement on a proposal that the court has already indicated it will approve.

…continue reading: The Prevalence and Utility of “Roadmap” Decisions in Bankruptcy Mega-Cases

An Economist’s View of Market Evidence in Valuation and Bankruptcy Litigation

Posted by Yaron Nili, Co-editor, HLS Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, on Saturday June 28, 2014 at 9:00 am
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Editor’s Note: The following post comes to us from Faten Sabry, Senior Vice President at NERA Economic Consulting, and is based on a NERA publication by Ms. Sabry and William P. Hrycay.

Courts often face many challenges when assessing the solvency of a company whether public or privately held. Examples of difficult valuation questions include: would a company with a market capitalization of several hundred million dollars possibly be insolvent? Or, would publicly-traded debt at or near par be conclusive evidence that the issuer is solvent at the time? Or, would a company’s inability to raise funds or maintain its investment grade rating at a given time be sufficient to rule on solvency?

It is common in valuation and solvency disputes to have qualified experts with very different opinions on the fair market value of a company, often using the same standard approaches of discounted cash flows and comparables. How would the courts or the arbitrators decide and what is the role of contemporaneous market evidence in such disputes? In this article, we discuss the role of market evidence and possible misinterpretations of such evidence and highlight recent court decisions in the United States.

…continue reading: An Economist’s View of Market Evidence in Valuation and Bankruptcy Litigation

Clearinghouses as Liquidity Partitioning

Posted by June Rhee, Co-editor, HLS Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, on Friday June 20, 2014 at 9:00 am
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Editor’s Note: The following post comes to us from Richard Squire, Professor of Law at Fordham University School of Law.

The Dodd-Frank Act established that certain swap contracts which previously were traded bilaterally (directly between buyers and sellers) must be traded through clearinghouses instead. Critics of this clearing mandate have mounted two main objections: a clearinghouse shifts risk instead of reducing it; and a clearinghouse could fail, requiring a bailout. In my article Clearinghouses as Liquidity Partitioning, recently published in the Cornell Law Review, I counter both objections by showing that clearinghouses engage in a socially valuable function that I term liquidity partitioning. Liquidity partitioning means that when one of its member firms becomes bankrupt, a clearinghouse keeps a portion of the firm’s most liquid assets, and a matching portion of its short‑term debt, out of the bankruptcy estate. The clearinghouse then applies the first toward immediate repayment of the second. Economic value is created because the surviving clearinghouse members are paid much more quickly than they would be in a bankruptcy proceeding. Meanwhile, the bankrupt member’s outside creditors are not paid any less quickly: they still are paid at the end of the bankruptcy proceeding, which the clearinghouse does nothing to prolong. These rapid cash payouts for clearinghouse members reduce illiquidity and uncertainty in the financial sector, the main causes of contagion in a crisis. And because the clearinghouse holds only liquid assets, it avoids the maturity mismatch between short‑term liabilities and long‑term assets that characterizes the balance sheets of many financial institutions. A clearinghouse therefore is much less likely than its members to fail during a crisis.

A clearinghouse achieves liquidity partitioning by engaging in netting. Thus, when a member fails, the clearinghouse uses short‑term debts owed to the member to immediately repay short‑term debts owed by the member. In this way, cash is intercepted on its way toward the bankruptcy estate and redirected toward other financial firms, who may be suffering their own liquidity shortages. The clearinghouse thereby shifts cash from lower-value to higher-value uses, decreasing liquidity pressure on the financial sector and thus the need during a crisis for a taxpayer-funded bailout.

…continue reading: Clearinghouses as Liquidity Partitioning

What It Takes for the FDIC SPOE Resolution Proposal to Work

Editor’s Note: The following post comes to us from Karen Petrou, co-founder and managing partner of Federal Financial Analytics, Inc., and is based on a letter and a FedFin white paper submitted to the FDIC by Ms. Petrou; the full texts are available here.

In a comment letter and supporting paper to the FDIC on its single-point-of-entry (SPOE) resolution concept release, Karen Shaw Petrou, managing partner of Federal Financial Analytics, argues that SPOE is conceptually sound and statutorily robust. However, progress to date on orderly liquidation has been so cautious as to cloud the credibility of assertions that the largest U.S. financial institutions, especially the biggest banks, are no longer too big to fail (“TBTF”). Crafting a new resolution regime is of course a complex undertaking that benefits from as much consensus as possible. However, if definitive action is not quickly taken on a policy construct for single-point-of-entry resolutions resolving high-level questions about its practicality and functionality under stress, markets will revert to TBTF expectations that renew market distortions, place undue competitive pressure on small firms, and stoke systemic risk. Even more dangerous, the FDIC may not be ready when systemic risk strikes again.

Questions addressed in detail in the paper and Ms. Petrou’s answers to them are summarized below:

…continue reading: What It Takes for the FDIC SPOE Resolution Proposal to Work

The Three Justifications for Piercing the Corporate Veil

Posted by Jonathan R. Macey, Yale Law School, on Thursday March 27, 2014 at 9:20 am
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Editor’s Note: Jonathan R. Macey is the Sam Harris Professor of Corporate Law, Corporate Finance and Securities Law at Yale University. The following post is based on an article co-authored by Professor Macey and Joshua Mitts of Sullivan & Cromwell LLP. The views in this post are those of Mr. Mitts and not his employer.

The doctrine of piercing the corporate veil is shrouded in misperception and confusion. On the one hand, courts understand the fact that the corporate form is supposed to be a juridical entity with the characteristic of legal “personhood.” As such courts acknowledge that their equitable authority to pierce the corporate veil is to be exercised “reluctantly” and “cautiously.” [1] Similarly, courts also recognize that it is perfectly legitimate to create a corporation or other form of limited liability company business organization such as an LLC “for the very purpose of escaping personal liability” for the debts incurred by the enterprise. [2]

…continue reading: The Three Justifications for Piercing the Corporate Veil

The Bankruptcy-Law Safe Harbor for Derivatives: A Path-Dependence Analysis

Posted by June Rhee, Co-editor, HLS Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, on Monday December 9, 2013 at 9:33 am
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Editor’s Note: The following post comes to us from Steven L. Schwarcz, Stanley A. Star Professor of Law & Business at Duke University School of Law. The post is based on a paper co-authored by Professor Schwarcz and Ori Sharon of Duke University School of Law.

Bankruptcy law in the United States, which serves as an important precedent for the treatment of derivatives under insolvency law worldwide, gives creditors in derivatives transactions special rights and immunities in the bankruptcy process, including virtually unlimited enforcement rights against the debtor (hereinafter, the “safe harbor”). The concern is that these special rights and immunities grew incrementally, primarily due to industry lobbying and without a systematic and rigorous vetting of their consequences.

Path Dependence

This type of legislative accretion process is a form of path dependence—a process in which the outcome is shaped by its historical path. To understand path dependence, consider Professor Mark Roe’s example of an 18th century fur trader who cuts a winding path through the woods to avoid dangers. Later travelers follow this path, and in time it becomes a paved road and houses and industry are erected alongside. Although the dangers that affected the fur trader are long gone, few question the road’s inefficiently winding route.

…continue reading: The Bankruptcy-Law Safe Harbor for Derivatives: A Path-Dependence Analysis

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