Raniero D'Aversa

Partner

New York


Read full biography at www.orrick.com

Raniero D’Aversa is chair of Orrick’s Restructuring group. He is a market-leading practitioner in bankruptcies, out-of-court restructurings and creditors’ rights controversies and brings years of experience representing DIP lenders, secured lenders, bank groups and hedge funds in those capacities.

Ron is the designated restructuring counsel to many leading financial institutions such as The Royal Bank of Scotland, Bank of America, Citibank, Commerzbank, Wells Fargo, Toronto-Dominion Bank and The Bank of Nova Scotia. He has represented clients in bankruptcies, workouts, DIP loans, distressed debt transactions, bankruptcy litigation, derivatives and distressed acquisitions. Ron has represented interests of financial institutions and investors in such restructuring and bankruptcy cases as Ocean Rig, Seadrill, CHC Helicopter, Erickson, Indiana Toll Road, Pocahontas Parkway, Eagle Bulk, Spyglass Films, American Airlines, Republic Airlines, Chemtura Corporation, Quebecor, AbitibiBowater, North Las Vegas, Ritchie Risk-Linked Strategies, Star Diamond, Lehman and Mesa Airlines.

Posts by: Raniero D'Aversa

Enforceability of Oral Contracts for Loan and Claim Trades

The Loan Syndications and Trading Association (the “LSTA”) scored a major victory in 2002 when New York adopted LSTA-sponsored legislation designed to make oral agreements to trade bank loans and claims arising from business debts legally binding. Since then, participants in both the syndicated loan market and the claims trading market have come to rely upon the idea that trades entered over the phone are binding, so long as the parties agreed to the material terms of the trade.

A 2014 Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decision calls this assumption into question for loan trading, and a case that is currently pending in New York state court could extend the uncertainty to business debt claim trades as well.

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Momentive: Case Update

As an update to our prior blog post, on May 4, 2015, Vincent Briccetti, United States District Court Judge for the Southern District of New York, issued a decision affirming the Bankruptcy Court’s order confirming Momentive’s cramdown chapter 11 plan.  The decision was long awaited with the parties having completed briefing in December 2014.

Judge Briccetti followed the reasoning of the Bankruptcy Court and affirmed the use of the “formula” approach to determine the cramdown interest rate.  Under the formula approach, the cramdown interest rate is equal to the sum of a “risk free” base rate (such as the prime rate) plus a risk margin of 1-3%.  Judge Briccetti rejected the “efficient market” approach advocated by the first and 1.5 lien noteholders, affirming the view that rates should not include any profit to secured creditors.  Under the efficient market approach, the cramdown interest rate is based on the interest rate the market would pay on such a loan.

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Momentive: Where does it stand?

On September 9, 2014, following a hotly contested four-day confirmation hearing, Robert Drain, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge for the Southern District of New York, issued a bench ruling approving Momentive’s chapter 11 plan.  See In re MPM Silicones, LLC, No. 14-22503-rdd, 2014 Bankr. LEXIS 3926 (Bankr. S.D.N.Y. Sept. 9, 2014).  Momentive’s plan provided for the company’s first and 1.5 lien noteholders to receive new notes with extended maturities at a reduced interest rate, while fully equitizing the second lien noteholders.  Holders of senior subordinated notes did not receive any recovery.  At the heart of the plan was a $600 million rights offering backstopped by the second lien noteholders.

In approving the plan, Judge Drain overruled objections filed by trustees for the first and 1.5 lien noteholders who argued that the plan was not “fair and equitable” because the proposed cramdown interest rate for each of the new notes was below the applicable market rate.  The first and 1.5 lien noteholders also asserted that a make-whole premium would have been due upon a repayment of the debt  pursuant to language in the first and 1.5 lien note indentures.  The trustee representing holders of senior subordinated notes also objected to the plan on the grounds that it impermissibly subordinated the claims of senior subordinated noteholders to the deficiency claims of second lien noteholders, which resulted in the senior subordinated noteholders not receiving any recovery.  The trustee for the senior subordinated notes also argued that the plan violated the absolute priority rule because Momentive and its debtor-subsidiaries retained intercompany interests even though the senior subordinated notes were not paid in full.

Although Judge Drain’s bench decision touched on several important confirmation topics, the ruling was controversial because it explicitly rejected a market-based approach to calculating the cramdown interest rate and endorsed the “formula approach” espoused in the chapter 13 cases Till v. SCS Credit Corp., 541 U.S. 465 (2004) and In re Valenti, 105 F.3d 55 (2d Cir. 1997).  Under the formula approach, the debtor must, in a cram-down scenario, provide a secured creditor with new notes bearing interest equal to a “risk free” base rate (such as the prime rate) plus a risk adjustment of 1-3%.  Importantly, he found while market pricing includes an element of profit, the Bankruptcy Code has no such requirement and thus the risk adjustment should be just that – an adjustment that reflects the ultimate risk of nonpayment, and not a mechanism to recover opportunity costs.  Judge Drain’s decision conflicts with decisions issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth and Sixth Circuits as well as some lower court opinions.  In economic terms, Momentive’s oversecured first and 1.5 lien noteholders lost nearly $100 million in trading value for their existing notes because the cramdown interest rate was calculated using the formula approach versus a market rate.

Following his confirmation decision, Judge Drain denied the creditors’ immediate request for a stay of consummation of the plan pending appeal.  Whether a stay pending appeal is granted is committed to the discretion of the judge after considering the following factors:  (i) whether the movant will suffer irreparable injury absent a stay, (ii) whether a party will suffer substantial injury if a stay is issued, (iii) whether the movant has demonstrated a substantial possibility of success on appeal, and (iv) the public interest that may be affected.  On September 11, 2014, Judge Drain formally entered an order confirming Momentive’s plan, prompting the trustees for the first and 1.5 lien noteholders as well as the trustee for the senior subordinated noteholders to file an appeal with the district court and once again seek a stay pending appeal.

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Summary of Puerto Rico Public Corporation Debt Enforcement & Recovery Act

On June 28, 2014, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico adopted the Puerto Rico Corporations Debt Enforcement & Recovery Act, Act 71-2014 (the “Debt Enforcement Act”), enabling certain Commonwealth public corporations in financial distress to restructure their debt obligations. The Debt Enforcement Act establishes a debt enforcement, recovery and restructuring regime for public corporations and other instrumentalities of the Commonwealth economic emergency. The goal of the new law is to balance the interests of creditors and other stakeholders with the interest of the Commonwealth to protect its citizens and to enable the financially distressed public corporations to continue to provide essential government services such as the delivery of electricity, gas and clean water.  Read More.

Law360: Rakoff’s Foreign Fund Clawback Ruling Has Limitations

On July 6, 2014, Jed S. Rakoff, U.S. district judge for the Southern District of New York, declined to extend the reaches of Section 550(a) of the Bankruptcy Code abroad to permit the recovery of funds that were alleged to be fraudulently obtained from Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC in connection with Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. Securities Investor Protection Corp. v. Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC (In re Madoff Securities), No. 12-mc-115 (JSR) (SDNY Jul. 6, 2014).  

The decision involves the attempted extraterritorial application of Section 550(a), which allows a trustee to recover “property transferred … to the extent that a transfer is avoided” under bankruptcy law. In essence, Irving Picard, the trustee, sought to not only seek recovery from feeder funds that invested directly into Madoff funds, but also sought to recover from subsequent transferees. The Madoff decision should give comfort to foreign investors that there is a reduced risk that proceeds of their indirect investments in U.S. companies will be clawed back under bankruptcy law — even if such proceeds were obtained fraudulently. There are, however, important limitations to consider.  Read More.

European Revolution vs. English Evolution

This client alert will focus on three of the key recent cases of the past six months, each of which features the use of English law restructuring tools for non-English companies. Whilst the wave of recent restructurings has slowed in recent times given the uptick in the European economy, these cases are likely to be cited as precedents in the future and the case law developments will be of assistance in the event there is rise in the number of restructurings which may be expected as interest rates rise in the next few years.

In the decade leading up to the Great Recession which commenced in 2008, many European jurisdictions took significant measures to update their antiquated insolvency regimes. The Spanish updated their 1898 insolvency laws in 2003, the Italians updated their 1942 bankruptcy laws in 2005, the French updated their 1984 laws in 2005, the Germans amended their regime in 1999, and finally the UK made radical changes in 2002. The effectiveness of the reforms were mixed and when the stresses of the Great Recession collided with the new regimes, a second wave of reforms, forged by the reality of experience, occurred in every major European country save the UK. In recent years a dichotomy has arisen between European radical change and English gradualism when it comes to restructuring law practice.  Read More.

General Motors Bankruptcy Court Applies the Brakes to Unauthorized Termination Statements

Last week, the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York held that a UCC-3 termination statement is effective to terminate a financing statement under the Uniform Commercial Code only if the filing of the termination statement was authorized by the secured party whose security interest was terminated.1 This decision raises the bar on the level of diligence by potential creditors to confirm that any prior liens covering their prospective collateral were effectively terminated. As stated by the Court, “the fact that a termination statement has been filed does not by itself mean that the initial statement came to an end.” Read More.

Tousa Roller Coaster

The bankruptcy case of TOUSA, Inc. and its various subsidiaries (collectively “Tousa”) is one where lenders have seen their fortunes rise and fall. On March 15, 2012, they fell again when the Eleventh Circuit1 (the “Circuit Court”) reversed the District Court’s opinion and reinstated the Bankruptcy Court’s order, which had disgorged over $400 million from Tousa’s senior lenders and avoided certain guarantees and liens granted to them by the Conveying Subsidiaries (defined below). Specifically, the Circuit Court found: (i) the Tousa Bankruptcy Court did not err when it found the Conveying Subsidiaries did not receive reasonably equivalent value in exchange for the new liens provided to the New Lenders; and (ii) the Transeastern Lenders were the direct beneficiaries of the new liens and as such subject to the avoidance powers of section 550(a). Read More.

Southern District of New York Enjoins Bank from Selling Loan Participation

On January 28, 2010, the United States Court for the Southern District of New York issued a decision in the case of Empresas Cablevisión, S.Z.B. de C.V. v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. The District Court enjoined JPMorgan Chase Bank N.A. and J.P. Morgan Securities Inc. (collectively, “JPMorgan”) from selling a participation interest to Banco Inbursa of loans made to Empresas Cablevisión, S.Z.B. de C.V. (“Cablevisión”). This decision has implications for parties that purchase and sell loans and for borrowers.  Read More.