Financial distress

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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.

Corporate finance area of finance dealing with the sources of funding and the capital structure of corporations

Corporate finance is an area of finance that deals with sources of funding, the capital structure of corporations, the actions that managers take to increase the value of the firm to the shareholders, and the tools and analysis used to allocate financial resources. The primary goal of corporate finance is to maximize or increase shareholder value. Although it is in principle different from managerial finance which studies the financial management of all firms, rather than corporations alone, the main concepts in the study of corporate finance are applicable to the financial problems of all kinds of firms.

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.

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Cost

A common example of a cost of financial distress are bankruptcy costs. These direct costs include auditors' fees, legal fees, management fees and other payments. Cost of financial distress can occur even if bankruptcy is avoided (indirect costs).

Financial distress in companies requires management attention and might lead to reduced attention on the operations of the company.

Another source of indirect costs of financial distress are higher costs of capital as usually banks increase the interest rates if a state of financial distress occurs.

Options for relieving financial distress

If high debt burden is the cause of financial distress, the company can undergo a debt restructuring. If operational issues are the reason for the distress, the company can negotiate a payment holiday with its creditors and improve operations to be able to service its debt.

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.

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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.

Leveraged buyout acquired control over a company by the purchase of its shares with borrowed money

A leveraged buyout (LBO) is a financial transaction in which a company is purchased with a combination of equity and debt, such that the company's cash flow is the collateral used to secure and repay the borrowed money. The use of debt, which normally has a lower cost of capital than equity, serves to reduce the overall cost of financing the acquisition. The cost of debt is lower inter alia because interest payments often reduce corporate income tax liability, whereas dividend payments normally do not. This reduced cost of financing allows greater gains to accrue to the equity, and, as a result, the debt serves as a lever to increase the returns to the equity.

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.

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.

Distressed securities are securities over companies or government entities that are experiencing financial or operational distress, default, or are under bankruptcy. As far as debt securities, this is called distressed debt. Purchasing or holding such distressed-debt creates significant risk due to the possibility that bankruptcy may render such securities worthless.

Debt collection is the process of pursuing payments of debts owed by individuals or businesses. An organization that specializes in debt collection is known as a collection agency or debt collector. Most collection agencies operate as agents of creditors and collect debts for a fee or percentage of the total amount owed.

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.

Credit counseling

Credit counseling is commonly a process that is used to help individual debtors with debt settlement through education, budgeting and the use of a variety of tools with the goal to reduce and ultimately eliminate debt. Credit counseling is most often done by Credit counseling agencies that are empowered by contract to act on behalf of the debtor to negotiate with creditors to resolve debt that is beyond a debtor's ability to pay. Some of the agencies are non-profits that charge at no or non-fee rates, while others can be for-profit and include high fees. Regulations on credit counseling and Credit counseling agencies varies by country and sometimes within regions of the countries themselves. In the United States, individuals filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy are required to receive counseling.

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

Debt settlement, also known as debt arbitration, debt negotiation or credit settlement, is an approach to debt reduction in which the debtor and creditor agree on a reduced balance that will be regarded as payment in full. During a negotiation period, all payments by the debtor are made to the debt settlement company, which typically withholds payments to the creditors, even if the debtor has paid a lump sum or made payments. Once all the debtor's accounts are in default due to this non-payment, the debt settlement company has leverage to force the debtor to accept a reduced lump sum payment as settlement. The debtor's credit rating goes down significantly due to the default, especially if the debtor was not behind on payments before the negotiation period commenced. Even though the accounts are "settled," the default appears on the debtor's credit record for seven years. Nevertheless, some debtors prefer this method of debt reduction over 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.

Debt management plan formal agreement between a debtor and a creditor that addresses the terms of an outstanding debt

A debt management plan (DMP) is an agreement between a debtor and a creditor that addresses the terms of an outstanding debt. This commonly refers to a personal finance process of individuals addressing high consumer debt. Debt management plans help reduce outstanding, unsecured debts over time to help the debtor regain control of finances. The process can secure a lower overall interest rate, longer repayment terms, or an overall reduction in the debt itself.

Within the theory of corporate finance, bankruptcy costs of debt are the increased costs of financing with debt instead of equity that result from a higher probability of bankruptcy. The fact that bankruptcy is generally a costly process in itself and not only a transfer of ownership implies that these costs negatively affect the total value of the firm. These costs can be thought of as a financial cost, in the sense that the cost of financing increases because the probability of bankruptcy increases. One way to understand this is to realize that when a firm goes bankrupt investors holding its debt are likely to lose part or all of their investment, and therefore investors require a higher rate of return when investing in bonds of a firm that can easily go bankrupt. This implies that an increase in debt which ends up increasing a firm's bankruptcy probability causes an increase in these bankruptcy costs of debt.

Edward I. Altman is a Professor of Finance, Emeritus, at New York University's Stern School of Business. He is best known for the development of the Altman Z-score for predicting bankruptcy which he published in 1968. Professor Altman is a leading academic on the High-Yield and Distressed Debt markets and is the pioneer in the building of models for credit risk management and bankruptcy prediction. He is the brother of Stuart Altman, a noted health care economist.

Bankruptcy prediction is the art of predicting bankruptcy and various measures of financial distress of public firms. It is a vast area of finance and accounting research. The importance of the area is due in part to the relevance for creditors and investors in evaluating the likelihood that a firm may go bankrupt.

Bankruptcy in Irish Law is a legal process, supervised by the High Court whereby the assets of a personal debtor are realised and distributed amongst his or her creditors in cases where the debtor is unable or unwilling to pay his debts.