FITCH: SOME PAST CHAPTER 11 FILERS AGAIN AT RISK OF DEFAULT
US Airways Group Inc. and Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. top a list of companies that restructured under chapter 11 but remain at risk of another default in the future, according to a new report by Fitch Ratings, Dow Jones Daily Bankruptcy Review reported yesterday. Fitch analysts Sharon Bonelli and Michael Simonton identified 31 companies that have defaulted in the past, whether via a bankruptcy filing, debt exchange or missed bond payment. Five publishing companies made the list, putting that industry most at risk of default. Building products companies came in second, with four in all. Read more. (Subscription required.)
COMMENTARY: A QUICK END TO TARP MEANS A SMALLER PAYOFF FOR TAXPAYERS
The federal government still holds investments in hundreds of small banks around the country in the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), and in an effort to wind down TARP, the government is trying to sell off its holdings of preferred stock of the remaining smaller banks, according to a commentary yesterday in the New York Times DealBook blog. The problem, according to the commentary, is that the Treasury Department is not getting great bids on some of the bank paper, even on the shares of banks with strong profits and strong capital. When the government sold its holdings in MetroCorp Bancshares of Houston this month, the bank itself bought back most of it – at 98 cents on the dollar. Wilshire Bancorp of Los Angeles bought back its paper at 94 cents on the dollar. The Treasury Department sold preferred shares of Ohio-based First Defiance at 96 cents, and Peoples Bancorp of North Carolina at 93 cents. While all of these small banks are regarded as healthy, the taxpayers take the loss, according to the commentary. Read more.
FHFA: SECOND QUARTER U.S. HOUSING PRICES INCREASED MOST SINCE 2005 IN SECOND QUARTER
The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) reported that U.S. house prices jumped 1.8 percent in the second quarter from the previous three months, fueled by record-low mortgage rates and tight inventory, Bloomberg News reported today. The seasonally adjusted increase was the biggest since the fourth quarter of 2005, the FHFA said. Prices climbed 3 percent from a year earlier. The number of Americans who owed more than their homes were worth fell by about 400,000 in the second quarter, according to a report today by Zillow Inc. Read more.
MASSACHUSETTS FORECLOSURE PREVENTION ACT SIGNED INTO LAW
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick (D) on August 3, 2012, signed into law Massachusetts’ Foreclosure Prevention Law, according to a recent post on the Massachusetts Real Estate Law blog. The new law makes significant changes to existing foreclosure practices in Massachusetts, and also attempts to clean up the recent turmoil surrounding defective foreclosure titles after the U.S. Bank v. Ibanez and Eaton v. FNMA rulings. Provisions of the new law include:
• New requirement that mortgage assignments be recorded
• New mandatory requirement to offer loan modifications and mediation to qualified borrowers
• New Eaton foreclosure affidavit confirming ownership of note/mortgage loan
• Protection for third party buyers of foreclosed properties
The new Massachusetts law goes into effect on Nov. 1, 2012. Click here to read the full text of the law.
COMMENTARY: GOVERNMENT STILL FRUSTRATED BY GMAC
Among the companies that were bailed out by the federal government during the financial crisis, perhaps the most intractable is the company formerly known as the General Motors Acceptance Corp. (GMAC), according to a commentary in the New York Times DealBook blog yesterday. GMAC was the financial arm of General Motors, and in the years leading up to the financial crisis, it was also GM's most profitable unit. In 2005, desperate to raise cash, General Motors sold a 51 percent stake in GMAC to the private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management. During the financial crisis, however, the only way that GMAC staved off collapse was thanks only to a government infusion of $17.2 billion. The company was renamed Ally Financial and the Treasury Department now owns 73.8 percent of Ally, with Cerberus retaining an 8.7 percent stake. Almost since that time, the Treasury Department has wanted to rid itself of its Ally stake, according to the commentary. Ally filed for an initial public offering in March 2011, but it has so far languished in the face of a weak market and concerns over Ally itself. The Treasury Department has been paid back about $5.7 billion and still controls the company through its stock ownership and appointment of a majority of Ally's directors. Despite lingering concerns about Ally, the automobile sales market is recovering and Ally's auto finance operations turned a profit last year. But Ally is still suffering from legacy debts, according to the commentary primarily concentrated in its ResCap unit. Despite having “General Motors” as part of its former title, the company did not just finance automobiles, but was also one of the largest subprime housing lenders through its ResCap subsidiary. Read more.
ANALYSIS: BUYOUTS BOOM, BUT NOT LIKE 2007
Private-equity buyouts are back but with a twist—they are smaller and less flashy than in past booms, according to an analysis in today's Wall Street Journal. Emboldened by a flurry of activity, private-equity executives say that the buyout market is crawling back from the doldrums of the financial crisis, when the debt that fueled such deals disappeared and potential sellers were put off by low valuations. Private-equity firms have snapped up $64.7 billion worth of U.S. companies since January, the highest amount year-to-date since 2007, according to data provider Dealogic. Experts cite a range of reasons, from relatively inexpensive financing to a push by troubled European banks to sell assets. Activity could cool off for the rest of the year amid uncertainty over the global economy and the U.S. presidential election, according to experts. And unlike in 2007, a blockbuster year for private equity that witnessed a bevy of large buyouts for household names, the current targets are smaller and lesser known. Read more. (Subscription required.)
DON'T MISS THE "WHEN IS AN INDIVIDUAL CHAPTER 11 THE BEST FIT?" WEBINAR ON SEPT. 27!
Chapter 11 can offer significant relief for certain individuals who need a restructuring of their finances. Learn when and how to use this tool in a 75-minute live webinar on Sept. 27 at noon ET. An expert panel will guide you through a successful individual chapter 11 and discuss key issues such as plan confirmation, modification and treatment of future income and secured debt.
Panelists on the webinar include:
• James F. Molleur of the Molleur Law Office (Biddeford, Maine)
• John P. Fitzgerald, III, of the Office of the U.S. Trustee (Boston)
• Raymond J. Obuchowski of Obuchowski & Emens-Butler, PC (Bethel, Vt.)
• Jennifer Rood of Bernstein Shur (Manchester, N.H.)
This panel was the highest rated at ABI's Northeast Bankruptcy Conference in July. The webinar is available to ABI members for $75. To register, please click here.
LATEST CASE SUMMARY ON VOLO: OKLAHOMA DEPARTMENT OF SECURITIES V. WILCOX (10TH CIR.)
Summarized by Daniel Glasser of Chipman Glasser, LLC
Reversing an earlier district court decision, the 10th Circuit held that debtors were entitled to a discharge of a claim related to debtors' unjust enrichment from proceeds of a Ponzi scheme, because such proceeds fell outside the exception in 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(19) – judgments for the violation of securities laws. The Tenth Circuit held that the plain language of section 523(a)(19) is limited to the perpetrators of securities violations, not to debtors unjustly enriched by a third party's violation of the law. Chief Circuit Judge Briscoe, however, dissented. He disagreed with the majority’s reading of the statute and argued that at least one of the debtors was complicit in the Ponzi scheme.
There are more than 600 appellate opinions summarized on Volo, and summaries typically appear within 24 hours of the ruling. Click here regularly to view the latest case summaries on ABI’s Volo website.
NEW ON ABI’S BANKRUPTCY BLOG EXCHANGE: THE CONTRACTS CLAUSE VERSUS THE BANKRUPTCY CLAUSE: BANKRUPTCY COURT HOLDS BANKRUPTCY CLAUSE REIGNS SUPREME
The Bankruptcy Blog Exchange is a free ABI service that tracks 35 bankruptcy-related blogs. A new blog post examines a recent decision by the Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of California that affirmatively held that the contracts clause did not eclipse the bankruptcy clause in the chapter 9 case of Stockton, Calif. Shortly after Stockton filed for chapter 9 protection in June, a group of retired employees commenced an adversary proceeding to prevent termination of their benefits on the theory that the contracts clause of the Constitution prevented the city from reducing retiree health benefits.
Be sure to check the site several times each day; any time a contributing blog posts a new story, a link to the story will appear on the top. If you have a blog that deals with bankruptcy, or know of a good blog that should be part of the Bankruptcy Exchange, please contact the ABI Web team.
ABI Quick Poll
Client matters left unfinished at a firm when it files for bankruptcy are the property of the defunct firm.
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