Chapter 11

What Happens in Delaware Does Not Always Stay in Delaware: Caesars Victorious in Venue Battle

On Wednesday, January 28th, the Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware transferred venue for the involuntary bankruptcy of Caesars Entertainment Operating Company to Chicago, frustrating attempts by certain second lien noteholders to administer the $18.4 billion case in Delaware. The junior noteholders had filed an involuntary petition in Delaware against CEOC, three days before CEOC and 172 of its affiliates filed voluntary bankruptcy cases in the Bankruptcy Court in Chicago. As a result of the transfer of venue of the CEOC case, Judge Benjamin Goldgar of the Northern District of Illinois Bankruptcy Court will preside over all of the cases, including determining the validity of the involuntary case. In re Caesars Entertainment Operating Company, Inc., No. 15-10047 (KG), 10-11 (Bankr. D. Del. Feb. 2, 2015).

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Overview and Analysis of Select Provisions of the ABI Chapter 11 Reform Commission Final Report and Recommendations

In December 2014, the American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI) issued its Final Report and Recommendations of the Commission to Study the Reform of Chapter 11. The Report is almost 400 pages long and contains more than 200 recommendations. Twenty-two Commissioners, including attorneys, academics, financial advisors and a former bankruptcy judge spent more than two years taking testimony from over 90 additional restructuring experts and considering the reports provided by 13 advisory committees, each comprised of 10-12 members from the bankruptcy bench, the bankruptcy bar, the financial community and academia. The Commission developed the report with goals including: reducing barriers to entry for debtors, facilitating more efficient resolution of disputed matters, enhancing debtors’ restructuring options and creating an alternative restructuring scheme for smaller businesses.

The recommendations do not constitute proposed legislation. Rather, the Report represents the opinion of the Commissioners and will spur debate. It ultimately could help lead to comprehensive overhaul of the almost 40-year old Bankruptcy Code. Recognizing that major bankruptcy reform generally takes years to wind its way through Congress, the Report implicitly acknowledges that 2018 is an appropriate target date for reform.

That does not mean the Report should be taken lightly, as it represents the consensus view of many well-regarded bankruptcy practitioners, academics and judges. At minimum, the Report will mark the commencement of a conversation about what the Commissioners view as much-needed reforms to the Bankruptcy Code. We also expect the report to receive the attention of judges and litigants in upcoming matters. Parties may look to the Commission’s interpretations of open legal questions as support for their assertions that certain interpretations represent the “better” argument or the “intended” result.

The Report covers nearly every aspect of the chapter 11 process with a multitude of suggested modifications to the Bankruptcy Code and bankruptcy jurisprudence. Below is our analysis of a number of the Commission’s most critical recommendations and of the potential impact of the proposed recommendations on the bankruptcy process.

To view the full article, please click here.

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.

Oregon Bankruptcy Court Denies Administrative Priority Status to Potential DIP Lender for Breakup Fee Claim

On April 8, 2014, Chief Bankruptcy Judge Frank R. Alley, III for the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Oregon found that Sunstone Business Finance, LLC’s claim against debtor C&K Market, Inc. did not constitute an administrative expense claim.  The claim arose from a breakup fee for proposed DIP financing after C&K selected an alternative DIP lender.

The Court denied Sunstone’s request for an administrative claim for two reasons.  First, the Court found that the breakup fee did not arise from a transaction with a debtor in possession because the parties executed the DIP term sheet prepetition.  Second, the Court found that Sunstone, as a potential lender, did not provide a direct and substantial benefit to the estate because the alleged benefits either occurred prepetition or were too indirect and intangible to qualify for priority treatment.  If this opinion were to gain acceptance beyond this case, it could chill prepetition offers to serve as new DIP lenders, or possibly even affect the market for stalking horse bidders in a section 363 sale.  In re C&K Market, Inc., No. 13-64561-fra11 (Bankr. D. Or. Apr. 8, 2014) [Dkt. No. 786].  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.