Debt restructuring

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Debt restructuring is a process that allows a private or public company, or a sovereign entity facing cash flow problems and financial distress to reduce and renegotiate its delinquent debts to improve or restore liquidity so that it can continue its operations.

Financial distress is a term in corporate finance used to indicate a condition when promises to creditors of a company are broken or honored with difficulty. If financial distress cannot be relieved, it can lead to bankruptcy. Financial distress is usually associated with some costs to the company; these are known as costs of financial distress.

Debt deferred payment, or series of payments, that is owed in the future

Debt is when something, usually money, is owed by one party, the borrower or debtor, to a second party, the lender or creditor. Debt is a deferred payment, or series of payments, that is owed in the future, which is what differentiates it from an immediate purchase. The debt may be owed by sovereign state or country, local government, company, or an individual. Commercial debt is generally subject to contractual terms regarding the amount and timing of repayments of principal and interest. Loans, bonds, notes, and mortgages are all types of debt. The term can also be used metaphorically to cover moral obligations and other interactions not based on economic value. For example, in Western cultures, a person who has been helped by a second person is sometimes said to owe a "debt of gratitude" to the second person.

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Replacement of old debt by new debt when not under financial distress is called "refinancing". Out-of-court restructurings, also known as workouts, are increasingly becoming a global reality. [1]

Refinancing is the replacement of an existing debt obligation with another debt obligation under different terms. The terms and conditions of refinancing may vary widely by country, province, or state, based on several economic factors such as inherent risk, projected risk, political stability of a nation, currency stability, banking regulations, borrower's credit worthiness, and credit rating of a nation. In many industrialized nations, a common form of refinancing is for a place of primary residency mortgage.

Restructuring is the corporate management term for the act of reorganizing the legal, ownership, operational, or other structures of a company for the purpose of making it more profitable, or better organized for its present needs. Other reasons for restructuring include a change of ownership or ownership structure, demerger, or a response to a crisis or major change in the business such as bankruptcy, repositioning, or buyout. Restructuring may also be described as corporate restructuring, debt restructuring and financial restructuring.

Motivation

A debt restructuring, which involves a reduction of debt and an extension of payment terms, is usually a less expensive alternative to bankruptcy. The main costs associated with debt restructuring are the time and effort negotiating with bankers, creditors, vendors, and tax authorities.

Bankruptcy legal status of a person or other entity that cannot repay the debts it owes to creditors

Bankruptcy is a legal status of a person or other entity who cannot repay debts to creditors. In most jurisdictions, bankruptcy is imposed by a court order, often initiated by the debtor.

In the United States, small business bankruptcy filings cost at least $50,000 in legal and court fees, and filing costs in excess of $100,000 are common. By some measures, only 20% of firms survive Chapter 11 bankruptcy filings. [2]

Chapter 11 is a chapter of Title 11, the United States Bankruptcy Code, which permits reorganization under the bankruptcy laws of the United States. Chapter 11 bankruptcy is available to every business, whether organized as a corporation, partnership or sole proprietorship, and to individuals, although it is most prominently used by corporate entities. In contrast, Chapter 7 governs the process of a liquidation bankruptcy, though liquidation can be done under Chapter 11 also; while Chapter 13 provides a reorganization process for the majority of private individuals.

Historically, debt restructuring has been the province of large corporations with financial wherewithal. In the Great Recession that began with the financial crisis of 2007–08, a component of debt restructuring called debt mediation emerged for small businesses (with revenues under $5 million). Like debt restructuring, debt mediation is a business-to-business activity and should not be considered the same as individual debt reduction involving credit cards, unpaid taxes, and defaulted mortgages.

Great Recession Early 21st-century global economic decline

The Great Recession was a period of general economic decline observed in world markets during the late 2000s and early 2010s. The scale and timing of the recession varied from country to country. The International Monetary Fund concluded that the overall impact was the most severe since the Great Depression in the 1930s. The Great Recession stemmed from the collapse of the United States real-estate market, in relation to the financial crisis of 2007 to 2008 and U.S. subprime mortgage crisis of 2007 to 2009, though policies of other nations contributed also. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the recession in the United States began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009, thus extending over 19 months. The Great Recession resulted in the scarcity of valuable assets in the market economy and the collapse of the financial sector (banks) in the world economy. Some banks were bailed out by the Federal government of the United States.

Credit card Card enabling payments from a line of credit

A credit card is a payment card issued to users (cardholders) to enable the cardholder to pay a merchant for goods and services based on the cardholder's promise to the card issuer to pay them for the amounts plus the other agreed charges. The card issuer creates a revolving account and grants a line of credit to the cardholder, from which the cardholder can borrow money for payment to a merchant or as a cash advance. In other words, credit cards combine payment services with extensions of credit. Complex fee structures in the credit card industry may limit customers' ability to comparison shop, helping to ensure that the industry is not price-competitive and helping to maximize industry profits. Due to concerns about this, many legislatures have regulated credit card fees.

In 2010 debt mediation has become a primary way for small businesses to refinance in light of reduced lines of credit and direct borrowing. Debt mediation can be cost-effective for small businesses, help end or avoid litigation, and is preferable to filing for bankruptcy. While there are numerous companies providing restructuring for large corporations, there are few legitimate firms working for small businesses. Legitimate debt restructuring firms only work for the debtor client (not as a debt collection agency) and should charge fees based on success.

Among the debt situations that can be worked out in business-to-business debt mediation are: lawsuits and judgments, delinquent property, machinery, equipment rentals/leases, business loans or mortgage on business property, capital payments due for improvements/construction, invoices and statements, disputed bills and problem debts.

Methods

Debt-for-equity swap

In a debt-for-equity swap, a company's creditors generally agree to cancel some or all of the debt in exchange for equity in the company.

Debt for equity deals often occur when large companies run into serious financial trouble, and often result in these companies being taken over by their principal creditors. This is because both the debt and the remaining assets in these companies are so large that there is no advantage for the creditors to drive the company into bankruptcy. Instead the creditors prefer to take control of the business as a going concern. As a consequence, the original shareholders' stake in the company is generally significantly diluted in these deals and may be entirely eliminated, as is typical in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Debt-for-equity swaps are one way of dealing with sub-prime mortgages. A householder unable to service his debt on a $180,000 mortgage for example, may by agreement with his bank have the value of the mortgage reduced (say to $135,000 or 75% of the house's current value), in return for which the bank will receive 50% of the amount by which any resale value, when the house is resold, exceeds $135,000.

Bondholder haircuts

A debt-for-equity swap may also be called a "bondholder haircut". Bondholder haircuts at large banks were advocated as a potential solution for the subprime mortgage crisis by prominent economists:

Economist Joseph Stiglitz testified that bank bailouts "are really bailouts not of the enterprises but of the shareholders and especially bondholders. There is no reason that American taxpayers should be doing this". He wrote that reducing bank debt levels by converting debt into equity will increase confidence in the financial system. He believes that addressing bank solvency in this way would help address credit market liquidity issues. [3]

Economist Jeffrey Sachs has also argued in favor of such haircuts: "The cheaper and more equitable way would be to make shareholders and bank bondholders take the hit rather than the taxpayer. The Fed and other bank regulators would insist that bad loans be written down on the books. Bondholders would take haircuts, but these losses are already priced into deeply discounted bond prices." [4]

If the key issue is bank solvency, converting debt to equity via bondholder haircuts presents an elegant solution to the problem. Not only is debt reduced along with interest payments, but equity is simultaneously increased. Investors can then have more confidence that the bank (and financial system more broadly) is solvent, helping unfreeze credit markets. Taxpayers do not have to contribute dollars and the government may be able to just provide guarantees in the short term to buttress confidence in the recapitalized institution. For example, Wells Fargo owed its bondholders $267 billion, according to its 2008 annual report. [5] A 20% haircut would reduce this debt by about $54 billion, creating an equal amount of equity in the process, thereby recapitalizing the bank significantly.

Informal debt repayment agreements

Most defendants who cannot pay the enforcement officer in full at once enter into negotiations with the officer to pay by installments. This process is informal but cheaper and quicker than an application to the court.

Payment by this method relies on the cooperation of the creditor and the enforcement officer. It is therefore important not to offer more than you can afford or to fall behind with the payments you agree. If you do fall behind with the payments and the enforcement officer has seized goods, they may remove them to the sale room for auction.

In various jurisdictions

Switzerland

Under Swiss law, debt restructuring may occur out of court, or through a court-mediated debt restructuring agreement that may provide for a partial waiver of debts, or for a liquidation of the debtor's assets by the creditors.

United Kingdom

The majority of debt restructuring within the United Kingdom is undertaken on a collaborative basis between the borrower and the creditors. Should this be unsatisfactory in the first instance, the court may be asked to mediate and appoint administrators.

Italy

Debt restructuring within Italy may occur either out of court (ex article 167 of the Italian Bankruptcy Law) when a waiver or simple debt rescheduling is required, or through a court-mediated debt restructuring agreement (ex article 182/bis of the Italian Bankruptcy Law) and may provide for a partial waiver of debts, mandatory recapitalization of the debtor, or for a liquidation of certain debtor's assets to repay privileged creditors.

Germany

While being famous for its efficiency in other matter, this is not true for debt restructuring. Many German companies prefer to restructure their debts using the English scheme of arrangement proceedings because they believe that the German restructuring law is not very helpful. The main reason for this is that binding a dissenting minority is only possible under formal insolvency proceedings in Germany. [6]

Corporate restructuring

As the incidence of corporate failures has increased in part due to current economic climate, so a more "standard" approach to restructuring has developed. Although every case has unique characteristics, the process of restructuring follows a number of important phases. Initially, a downturn in trading performance is identified typically through management accounts or as a result of revised management projections. This triggers a gathering of lenders and other stakeholders, in anticipation of a breach of financial covenants or a crisis of liquidity.

The lending group (typically comprising corporate finance divisions of banks) will normally commission a corporate advisory group to review the business and its financial position. This will form the basis of any restructuring of facilities. The lending group will typically appoint a Corporate Restructuring Officer (CRO) to assist management in the turnaround of the business, and embracing the recommendations presented by the banking group and the corporate advisory report.

See also

Related Research Articles

Default (finance) failure to meet the conditions of a loan

In finance, default is failure to meet the legal obligations of a loan, for example when a home buyer fails to make a mortgage payment, or when a corporation or government fails to pay a bond which has reached maturity. A national or sovereign default is the failure or refusal of a government to repay its national debt.

Debenture

In corporate finance, a debenture is a medium- to long-term debt instrument used by large companies to borrow money, at a fixed rate of interest. The legal term "debenture" originally referred to a document that either creates a debt or acknowledges it, but in some countries the term is now used interchangeably with bond, loan stock or note. A debenture is thus like a certificate of loan or a loan bond evidencing the fact that the company is liable to pay a specified amount with interest and although the money raised by the debentures becomes a part of the company's capital structure, it does not become share capital. Senior debentures get paid before subordinate debentures, and there are varying rates of risk and payoff for these categories.

A credit risk is the risk of default on a debt that may arise from a borrower failing to make required payments. In the first resort, the risk is that of the lender and includes lost principal and interest, disruption to cash flows, and increased collection costs. The loss may be complete or partial. In an efficient market, higher levels of credit risk will be associated with higher borrowing costs. Because of this, measures of borrowing costs such as yield spreads can be used to infer credit risk levels based on assessments by market participants.

Holdout problem Economic issue of securities

In finance, a holdout problem occurs when a bond issuer is in default or nears default, and launches an exchange offer in an attempt to restructure debt held by existing bond holders. Such exchange offers typically require the consent of holders of some minimum portion of the total outstanding debt, often in excess of 90%, because, unless the terms of the bond provide otherwise, non-consenting bondholders will retain their legal right to demand repayment of their bonds at par. Bondholders who withhold their consent and retain their right to seek the full repayment of original bonds, may disrupt the restructuring process, creating a situation known as the holdout problem.

Insolvency is the state of being unable to pay the money owed, by a person or company, on time; those in a state of insolvency are said to be insolvent. There are two forms: cash-flow insolvency and balance-sheet insolvency.

A bailout is a colloquial term for the provision of financial help to a corporation or country which otherwise would be on the brink of failure or bankruptcy.

A vulture fund is a hedge fund, private equity fund or distressed debt fund, that invests in debt considered to be very weak or in default, known as distressed securities. Investors in the fund profit by buying debt at a discounted price on a secondary market and then using numerous methods to gain a larger amount than the purchasing price. Debtors include companies, countries, and individuals.

In England and Wales, an individual voluntary arrangement (IVA) is a formal alternative for individuals wishing to avoid bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy is a legally declared inability or impairment of ability of an individual or organization to pay their creditors. In most cases personal bankruptcy is initiated by the bankrupt individual. Bankruptcy is a legal process that discharges most debts, but has the disadvantage of making it more difficult for an individual to borrow in the future. To avoid the negative impacts of personal bankruptcy, individuals in debt have a number of bankruptcy alternatives.

Prachai Leophai-ratana is a former senator and a Thai businessman who founded Thai Petrochemical Industry (TPI).

Subordination in banking and finance refers to the order of priorities in claims for ownership or interest in various assets.

Debtor-in-possession financing or DIP financing is a special form of financing provided for companies in financial distress, typically during restructuring under corporate bankruptcy law. Usually, this debt is considered senior to all other debt, equity, and any other securities issued by a company — violating any absolute priority rule by placing the new financing ahead of a company's existing debts for payment.

The insolvency law of Switzerland is the law governing insolvency, foreclosure, bankruptcy and debt restructuring proceedings in Switzerland. It is principally codified in the Federal Statute on Debt Enforcement and Bankruptcy of 11 April 1889 as well as in ancillary federal and cantonal laws.

The Subprime mortgage crisis solutions debate discusses various actions and proposals by economists, government officials, journalists, and business leaders to address the subprime mortgage crisis and broader financial crisis of 2007–08.

Turnaround Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), also known as Business Revitalization ADR, is a process increasingly used by companies in Japan to adjust their debt. This out-of-court procedure was established in Japan in 2007 and is based on Japanese Law, specifically the Special Measures Law for Industrial Revitalization and Rebirth of Japan. It allows companies to forgo bankruptcy proceedings and replaces previous voluntary debt adjustments under such as the "Guideline for Voluntary Debt Adjustment".

Cayman Islands bankruptcy law

Cayman Islands bankruptcy law is principally codified in five statutes and statutory instruments:

References

  1. "Out-of-Court Debt Restructuring" (PDF). p. 54.
  2. Buljevich, Esteban C.,Cross Border Debt Restructuring: Innovative Approaches for Creditors, Corporate and Sovereigns ISBN   1-84374-194-6
  3. "Obama's Ersatz Capitalism". The New York Times. 1 April 2009.
  4. "Jeffrey Sachs: Our Wall Street Besotted Public Policy", Real Clear Politics, March 2009
  5. Wells Fargo-2008 Annual Report Archived 2012-05-18 at the Wayback Machine
  6. "Debt Restructuring in Germany" (PDF).