Sunday, July 26, 2009

Preserving Favorable Financing in Bankruptcy

Section 1124 of the Bankruptcy Code allows borrowers to reinstate debt under certain conditions. Via Zero Hedge, an excerpt from a letter from Watchell Lipton reporting a settlement in the Spectrum Brands bankruptcy case:

Section 1124 of the Bankruptcy Code provides that if, pursuant to its Chapter 11 plan, a debtor cures all nonbankruptcy defaults under a debt instrument and does not alter the rights of the debtholders, the reorganized company can “reinstate” the debt on its original terms, without the consent of the debtholders. Thus, the success of a “reinstatement” strategy depends on the debtor’s ability to craft a feasible plan that does not violate the terms of the relevant loan documents and allows the debtor to remain in compliance with the loan’s terms post-bankruptcy. Because many secured credit agreements negotiated over the last several years have favorable interest rates and contain so-called “covenant lite” provisions (few or no financial covenants and permissive negative covenants), such companies have a strong incentive to try to take advantage of reinstatement.

Although I’ve not heard of the section being applied in a real estate case, this would seem to be a mechanism a borrower could use to restructure junior or mezzanine debt while leaving favorable first lien debt in place.

The complete Watchell Lipton letter can be found at the Zero Hedge post.