The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company, better known as A&P, recently moved for approval of a structured dismissal of its most recent chapter 11 case. Debtors seek structured dismissal of their chapter 11 cases when they cannot confirm a chapter 11 plan. In this case, the A&P estate is massively administratively insolvent, meaning that it can’t pay expenses that became due after the bankruptcy filing.

In theory, the bankruptcy judge, the United States trustee and the creditors committee monitor the case to prevent administrative insolvency; if a case becomes administratively insolvent, the case should be converted to chapter 7. But there is often an enormous reservoir of inertia among the case professionals to resist conversion, particularly in big cases, even where administrative insolvency is clear. The costs of that inertia are asymmetrical. Typically, the professionals receive all or most of their fees, while administrative creditors are involuntarily exposed to loss.
Continue Reading A&P Liquidation Will Pay Administrative Creditors Just $.20 on the Dollar: Is There a Better Way?

A decision in the Delaware District Court allowing nonconsensual third-party releases in plans of liquidation has a surprising origin – the Harvey Weinstein scandal.

In October of 2017, the Weinstein scandal exploded across the nation, bringing to light over 80 sexual assault allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein. Weinstein saw swift retribution: his businesses, The Weinstein Company Holdings and affiliates (the “Weinstein Debtors”), faced multiple lawsuits and filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in March of 2018. Weinstein himself was arrested two months later. The scandal triggered the #MeToo social justice movement, empowering victims of sexual assault and harassment across the globe to voice their claims. Weinstein was ultimately convicted on two felony counts of sexual assault, and the chapter 11 proceeding involving The Weinstein Debtors is drawing to a close in the Delaware Bankruptcy Court.
Continue Reading Nonconsensual Third-Party Releases Not Limited to Plans of Reorganization

On March 11, 2021, the Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware approved a plan of liquidation for Cred Inc. and debtor affiliates, a collection of cryptocurrency investment firms that filed for Chapter 11 protection on November 8, 2020. So how exactly did a cryptocurrency investment firm go bankrupt in Fall 2020? In November 2019, Bitcoin was trading between $7,000 and $9,500 per coin. By November 8, 2020, the price of BTC had doubled, hitting a high of $15,637. Just four months later, on March 13, 2021, BTC closed over $61,000. And it wasn’t just Bitcoin. Ethereum is up 970% since November 8, 2019; BinanceCoin is up 1,361%; and Cardano is up 2,814%. Even Dogecoin is up 2,111% since November 8, 2019. Anyone remotely involved in the cryptocurrency business should have had an historic year. So what was the problem for Cred Inc.?
Continue Reading Cryptocurrency Investment Firm’s Liquidation Plan Approved—Wait, What?

Because of the unprecedented winter storm that clobbered Texas in February 2021, Brazos Electric Power Cooperative, Inc., was forced to file for chapter 11 in response to staggering increases in energy prices around the time of the storm. According to the first day declaration, Brazos was financially stable and bankruptcy “was unfathomable.” But in response to rotating outages across Texas, the Public Utility Commission of Texas instructed the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (“ERCOT”) to raise rates far beyond expectations for more than four straight days. ERCOT also imposed tremendous fees on energy use. After seven days of swelled energy prices, Brazos was presented with a bill for around $2.1 billion—due in mere days.
Continue Reading Texas Deep Freeze Spurs Chapter 11 Filing for Waco Based Energy Company

Belk Inc., a national privately-owned department store chain, just completed a $450 million debt restructuring in less than 24 hours! U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Marvin Isgur confirmed the plan the morning of the First Day Hearing despite the U.S. Trustee’s concerns about adequate notice. The Debtors’ prepackaged plan became effective hours after it was confirmed by the Court.

Belk argued that the plan must be confirmed quickly because the company had no cash reserves and no committed DIP financing. The Court agreed with the need for a speedy plan to protect thousands of jobs and hundreds of stores from closing. The prepackaged restructuring plan was supported by nearly all the creditors. The U.S. Trustee objected to hasty plan confirmation because the interested parties would be rushed to evaluate, respond, or object to the plan.
Continue Reading In and Out of Bankruptcy in One Day: Record-Setting Prepackaged Restructuring Plan Confirmed Within Hours of Chapter 11 Filing

Earlier this month, three student loan borrowers filed an involuntary Chapter 11 petition under 11 U.S.C. § 303(b)(1) for Navient Solutions LLC, a student loan servicer. Three or more entities who each hold a claim against an involuntary debtor can file an involuntary bankruptcy petition on that debtor’s behalf if each claim is neither a contingent liability nor the subject of a bona fide dispute as to liability or amount. The borrowers alleged that Navient is insolvent and wrongfully collected about $45,000 in loan repayments from the petitioners after their loans were discharged in bankruptcy. On February 17, 2021, Navient filed an expedited motion to dismiss the petition, arguing that it was frivolous and filed in bad faith by petitioners’ counsel: for an advantage in other Navient suits and to harm Navient’s reputation. Navient asserted that the petitioners failed to allege specific facts or provide documentary evidence supporting the debtors’ right to file under section 303(b)(1).
Continue Reading Navient’s Expedited Motion to Dismiss Student Loan Borrowers’ Involuntary Chapter 11 Petition

When Congress passed the Small Business Reorganization Act (“SBRA”) in August 2019, we lived in a different world. The SBRA added a “Subchapter V” to the Bankruptcy Code for small business debtors, responding to longstanding criticism of the Bankruptcy Code’s costs and complexities on small businesses trying to reorganize. The SBRA became effective exactly one year ago, on February 19, 2020, and when many businesses in the United States shut their doors in March 2020, many thought that the timing of the SBRA was just right to serve the needs of the small business community. On the paper anniversary of the SBRA’s effective date (the first wedding anniversary is colloquially referred to as the paper anniversary), we have looked at how the SBRA has helped small business debtors and how Congress modified Subchapter V this year to further help struggling small businesses. We are also highlighting a few issues coming out of Subchapter V so far.
Continue Reading Subchapter V: The Paper Anniversary

Greylock Capital Associates, LLC, a New York-based hedge fund founded in 2004, recently filed for chapter 11 protection under subchapter V for small businesses. Assets under management for Greylock have halved since 2017 and the hedge fund has cut its staff from 21 people to just nine now. Greylock filed to reject its $100,000 per month Madison Avenue lease that the hedge fund no longer needs. Greylock leased the 11,400 square foot premises in 2014, but when the fund’s growth stalled after its height in 2017 there was no need for such a large office in the heart of midtown Manhattan.
Continue Reading Greylock Capital Associates, LLC May Preview A Rash of Filings To Reject New York City Leases

On January 15, 2021, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled in City of Chicago v. Fulton that a secured party in possession of a debtor’s collateral does not violate the automatic stay by passively retaining possession after a debtor commences a bankruptcy case. When a debtor files a bankruptcy case, the Bankruptcy Code protects the debtor by imposing an automatic stay on efforts to collect prepetition debts or “any act . . . to exercise control over property” of the bankruptcy estate.
Continue Reading Recent Supreme Court Ruling Provides Important Protection for Secured Creditors

Herrick congratulates its Restructuring & Finance Litigation Group on the success it has enjoyed over the last two years. The team, which now has 18 members and counting, has grown substantially while taking on a variety of complex litigation matters and Chapter 11 Restructurings. Below is a small sampling of our recent work.
Continue Reading Herrick’s Restructuring & Finance Litigation: 2019-2020 In Review