RESTRUCTURING EXPERTS: RECESSION DID NOT IMPROVE CORPORATE GOVERNANCE
The Great Recession taught businesses some valuable lessons, but a recent survey found that restructuring experts do not think companies learned enough about changing their corporate governance practices, the Wall Street Journal reported today. In its 2013 Outlook Survey of restructuring experts, advisory firm AlixPartners said that slightly less than half of the 98 professionals questioned believe corporate governance is better now than it was before the recession. Corporate governance breakdowns have indeed been a major factor in several bankruptcies of the past few years, including the collapse of MF Global Holdings Ltd. and the massive fraud at Peregrine Financial Group Inc. Despite those events, more than two-thirds of the restructuring professionals who think corporate governance is worse said that it was because of liquidity oversight. When asked which sectors might face increases in distressed situations, the restructuring gurus picked industries facing scrutiny in Washington, D.C. Forty-one percent of those surveyed picked health care, up from just 20 percent last year. The restructuring experts also expect an uptick in distressed situations at energy companies, along with aerospace and defense. Read more. (Subscription required.)
PRIVATE EQUITY BRACING FOR BUYOUT-BOOM SHAKEOUT
The private-equity industry, comprised of nearly 4,500 firms with $3 trillion in assets, is bracing for a shakeout that has been brewing since the collapse of credit markets choked off a record leveraged-buyout binge, Bloomberg News reported today. Firms that attracted an unprecedented $702 billion from investors from 2006 to 2008 must replenish their coffers for future deals and avoid a reduction in fee income when the investment periods on those older funds run out, typically after five years. As many as 708 firms face such deadlines through 2015, according to London-based researcher Preqin Ltd. Many firms are suffering from below-average profits on their boom-period funds, and top executives from Carlyle Group LP co-founder David Rubenstein to Blackstone Group LP President Tony James say that future returns will be far more modest than those investors got used to in the past. As investors gravitate to the best-performing managers and cut loose others, 10 to 25 percent of the firms may find themselves without fresh money. Read more.
REPORT: SEC'S REVOLVING DOOR HURTS ITS EFFECTIVENESS
The Project on Government Oversight, a nonprofit watchdog group long critical of the SEC's revolving door, released a study yesterday highlighting a pattern of SEC alumni going to bat for Wall Street firms, the New York Times DealBook blog reported yesterday. The report, similarly skeptical of Wall Street lawyers joining the SEC, cites recent enforcement cases and scuttled money market regulations to underscore its concerns. "Former employees of the Securities and Exchange Commission routinely help corporations try to influence SEC rule-making, counter the agency's investigations of suspected wrongdoing, soften the blow of SEC enforcement actions, block shareholder proposals and win exemptions from federal law," the report says. Read more.
SPECULATIVE BETS PROVE RISKY AS SAVERS CHASE PAYOFF
Regulators across the country are confronting a wave of investor fraud that is saddling retirement savers with steep losses on complex products that until a few years ago were pitched only to the most sophisticated investors, the New York Times reported yesterday. The victims are among the millions of Americans whose mutual funds and stock portfolios plummeted in the wake of the financial crisis, and who started searching for ways to make better returns than those being offered by bank deposits and government bonds with minuscule interest rates. Tens of thousands of them put money into speculative bets promoted by aggressive financial advisers. The investments include private loans to young companies like television production firms and shares in bundles of commercial real estate properties. Those alternative investments have now had time to go sour in big numbers, state and federal securities regulators say, and are making up a majority of complaints and prosecutions. "Since the crisis, we've seen more and more people reaching out into different types of exotic investments that are a big concern to us," said William F. Galvin, the Massachusetts secretary of the commonwealth. Last Wednesday, Galvin's office ordered one of the nation's largest brokerage firms, LPL Financial, to pay $2.5 million for improperly selling the real estate bundles, known as nontraded REITs, or real estate investment trusts, to hundreds of state residents from 2006-09, in some cases overloading clients' accounts with them. Read more.
COMMENTARY: QUIETLY KILLING A CONSUMER WATCHDOG
Having failed to block the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, Senate Republicans are now trying to take away its power by filibuster, and they may well succeed, according to a New York Times editorial today. Under the Dodd-Frank law, most of the CFPB's regulatory powers -- particularly its authority over nonbanks like finance companies, debt collectors, payday lenders and credit agencies -- can be exercised only by a director. Knowing that, Republicans used a filibuster to prevent President Obama's nominee for director, Richard Cordray, from reaching a vote in 2011. Obama then gave Cordray a recess appointment, but a federal appeals court recently ruled in another case that the Senate was not in recess at that time because of the Republicans' tactics. That opinion, if upheld by the Supreme Court, is likely to apply to Cordray as well, which could invalidate the rules the bureau has already enacted. The president has renominated Cordray, but Republicans have made it clear that they will continue to filibuster to block his confirmation. Earlier this month, 43 Senate Republicans wrote a letter to the president vowing to block any nominee until "key structural changes" are made, including a bipartisan commission to run the bureau instead of one director, and congressional control of its appropriations. Other bank regulators, like the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, are not subject to the appropriations process, as a shield against political interference. Congress does, however, control the budgets of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and House Republicans have voted to strip those agencies of money needed to regulate derivatives and curb abuses. Read the full editorial.
ANALYSIS: S&P'S TOXIC AAA RATINGS OF MORTGAGE DEBT HAD FAR-REACHING EFFECTS
Institutions throughout the financial services industry felt the effects of the damages inflicted when S&P allegedly inflated rankings of mortgage debt that contributed to the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, according to a Bloomberg News analysis yesterday. As a result, the Justice Department sued New York-based S&P and parent McGraw-Hill Cos. last week. The world's leading financial institutions suffered more than $2.1 trillion of writedowns and losses after soaring U.S. mortgage defaults caused the credit crunch. Some of the biggest losers were banks, including Citigroup and Bank of America Corp., which created and purchased collateralized debt obligations. Many of these investments -- created by packaging mortgage-backed bonds, derivatives and other CDOs and dividing them into new securities with varying degrees of risk -- imploded within a year after they were sold, even though they had pristine credit ratings. Smaller financial institutions were also ruined by mortgage-backed debt. Western Federal Corporate Credit Union failed after its executives employed an improperly "aggressive investment strategy" that had no limits on highly rated mortgage bonds, according to a regulatory report on its collapse. Read more.
ABI LIVE WEBINAR: REVISITING RADLAX AND HALL – NEW LEGAL AND PRACTICAL IMPACT OF THE DECISIONS
See why this was the top-rated panel at the ABI Winter Leadership Conference last month! Join the expert panel on Feb. 19 from 12:00-1:15pm EST as they summarize and discuss the legal impact and practical implications of the Supreme Court’s 2012 decisions in Radlax and Hall. Participants include:
• Susan M. Freeman of Lewis and Roca LLP (Phoenix)
• Adam A. Lewis of Morrison & Foerster LLP (San Francisco)
• Prof. Charles J. Tabb of the University of Illinois College of Law (Champaign, Ill.)
POWER TO VETO BANKRUPTCY SALES AMONG ISSUES TO BE EXAMINED AT ABI'S 31ST ANNUAL SPRING MEETING
The 2013 Annual Spring Meeting, to be held April 18-21, 2013, at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Md., features a roster of the best national speakers, while the depth and scope of topics offer something for everyone. Specifically, four concurrent workshops will cover various “tracks,” including programs for attorneys in commercial cases, a track for restructuring professionals, a track of professional development programming and a track dealing solely with consumer issues. More than 16 hours of CLE/CPE is offered in some states, along with ethics credit totaling 3 hours, making the cost only about $50 per credit. In addition, committee sessions will drill down on other topics to provide you with the most practical and varied CLE/CPE experience ever. Sessions include:
- 17th Annual Great Debates
- Mediation: An Irrational Approach to a Rational Result
- Creditors' Committees and the Role of Indenture Trustees and Related Issues
- Current Issues for Financial Advisors in Bankruptcy Cases
- The Individual Conundrum: Chapter 7, 11 or 13?
- Real Estate Issues in Health Care Restructurings
- Law Firm Bankruptcies
- How to Be a Successful Expert
- The Ethical Compass: Multiple Ethical Schemes Applicable to Financial Advisors
- Chapter 9s, Nonprofits and Other Nontraditional Restructuring Processes
- And much more!
The Spring Meeting will also feature a field hearing of the ABI Commission to Study the Reform of Chapter 11, a report from the ABI Ethics Task Force, a luncheon panel discussion moderated by Bill Rochelle of Bloomberg News, and a Final Night Gala Dinner featuring a concert by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts!
DON'T MISS THE 9TH ANNUAL WHARTON RESTRUCTURING AND DISTRESSED INVESTING CONFERENCE ON FEB. 22!
The University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business will be holding the 9th Annual Wharton Restructuring and Distressed Investing Conference on Feb. 22 at the Hyatt at The Bellevue in Philadelphia. The theme of this year's conference is “Health of Nations: Distress, Recovery or Revival?” It will offer a unique opportunity to hear from a distinguished gathering of keynote speakers and panelists in their discussion of the current economic climate and issues of debt, investing, and restructuring across the globe. To register, please click here.
NEW BANKRUPTCY PROFESSIONALS: DON'T MISS THE NUTS AND BOLTS PROGRAM AT ABI'S ANNUAL SPRING MEETING! SPECIAL PRICING IF YOU ARE AN ASM REGISTRANT!
An outstanding faculty of judges and practitioners explains the fundamentals of bankruptcy in a one-day Nuts and Bolts program on April 18 being held in conjunction with ABI's Annual Spring Meeting. Ideal training for junior professionals or those new to this practice area!
The morning session covers concepts all bankruptcy practitioners need to know, and the afternoon session splits into concurrent tracks, focusing on consumer and business issues. The session will include written materials, practice tip sessions with bankruptcy judges, continental breakfast and a reception after the program. Click here to register!
LATEST CASE SUMMARY ON VOLO: LEAVITT V. FINNEY (IN RE FINNEY; 9TH CIR.)
Summarized by David Hercher of Miller Nash LLP
The Ninth Circuit ruled that because the chapter 13 debtor received a chapter 7 discharge in a prior case commenced during the four-year period before the current petition date, she was not entitled to a discharge in the current chapter 13 case, even though the first case was commenced under chapter 13 and converted to chapter 7 before discharge.
There are more than 750 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: CASE FOCUSES ON A COMMERCIAL LANDLORD'S CLAIM FOR INDEMNIFICATION
The Bankruptcy Blog Exchange is a free ABI service that tracks 35 bankruptcy-related blogs. A recent post examines the case of In re Mervyn's Holdings, LLC, in which the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware held that a claim arising from an indemnification provision, in a non-residential commercial lease, which was rejected post-petition, was entitled to administrative priority pursuant to § 365(d)(3) of the Bankruptcy Code.
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
After Stern, bankruptcy courts do not have the constitutional authority to enter final judgments on fraudulent conveyance claims.
Click here to vote on this week's Quick Poll. Click here to view the results of previous Quick Polls.
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ABI Live Webinar: Revisiting RadLAX and Hall- New Legal and Practical Impact of the Decisions
Feb. 19, 2013 Register Today!