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Unitranche financing began as a middle-market product, tracing its origins to the days of recovery from the global credit crisis. The credit markets re-opened with an explosion of available capital from traditional lenders, business development companies and other direct lenders. With an increasing supply of capital, leverage shifted to borrowers and private equity, allowing them to better dictate the terms and conditions of their loan facilities. With the greater prevalence of so-called “covenant-lite” loans, also came the exponential growth of the unitranche market. What began as a financing structure most often used for loans of less than $50 million, unitranche loans are now regularly used for financings exceeding $1 billion, and in 2021, up to $3 billion.  A unitranche facility combines the benefits of multi-tranche debt regularly found in the syndicated lending markets (i.e., the ability to raise funds from lenders with different risk profiles and return expectations), with those of speed and certainty that are a hallmark of the private lending community. In its simplest form, unitranche facilities are structured using a single-tier, combing the senior and junior components of syndicated loans into one loan. Whereas a syndicated loan may require distinct grants of senior and junior liens on collateral to multiple lending groups, a unitranche uses a single lien to secure the entire facility. The benefits to the borrower are obvious: it is faced with a single term loan: one set of principal and interest payments, a single package of covenants to monitor, and a uniform list of defaults to avoid. Layering on the advantage of a single agent, a unitranche facility greatly streamlines loan administration from the borrower’s perspective.

Continue Reading The Continued Growth of Unitranche Financing

The merchant cash advance (“MCA”) industry recently provided two different bankruptcy courts with an opportunity to consider the characterization of MCA funding transactions as either “true sales” of receivables or “disguised loans”. [1] MCA funders typically provide cash to a financially distressed company in exchange for a percentage of that company’s future receivables collection. Companies in need of liquidity will often seek to monetize their receivables, either by selling them (i.e., a true sale) or using them as collateral for a loan (i.e., a secured loan). Recognizing the benefits of having an ownership interest in such assets in case of a counterparty’s bankruptcy, MCA funders typically attempt to structure their transactions as “purchases” of a company’s future receivables. For that same reason, a bankruptcy trustee or a debtor-in-possession will often argue that these transactions are really “disguised loans” and that the MCA funder is only a secured creditor of the bankruptcy estate that owns the receivable.

Continue Reading Receivables Transactions Revisited: Recent Decisions Split on Sale vs. Loan Characterization

Article 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code, adopted in all fifty states plus the District of Columbia with relatively few variations, sets out, among other things, the rules to be followed when obtaining a security interest in personal property collateral to secure a loan. The basic premise of Article 9 is that if the lender follows the rules, it should be protected against third parties, including other creditors or a bankruptcy trustee, who would seek to challenge the lender’s security interest or the priority of the security interest.

Continue Reading UCC Financing Statements and Debtor Name Errors: The Litigation Continues

In its much-discussed decision, City of Chicago v. Fulton, 141 S. Ct. 585 (2020), the Supreme Court ruled that the City of Chicago (“City”) was not in violation of Section 362(a)(3) of the Bankruptcy Code for failing to release an impounded car to a debtor in bankruptcy. Section 362(a)(3) imposes an automatic stay over “any act to obtain possession of property of the estate or of property from the estate or to exercise control over property of the estate.” According to the Supreme Court, a violation of this section requires some affirmative act beyond mere retention of a debtor’s property.  Secured creditors applauded the decision as it shed some light on factors to consider when deciding whether to return property of their bankrupt borrowers that may have been impounded, seized or otherwise have come into their possession prior to bankruptcy. The Supreme Court, however, limited its ruling to the particular section before it (Section 362(a)(3)), and did not address potential automatic stay violations set forth in other sections, including Sections 362(a)(4), (6) and (7), of the Bankruptcy Code.[1]  Whether the reasoning in Fulton applies to these other sections remains an open question, but one that may soon be answered.

Continue Reading Lenders Beware: The Supreme Court’s Ruling in Fulton May Not Be the Final Word on Violations of the Automatic Stay

Periodically courts remind corporate directors that their decisions to act or to refrain from acting during the course of managing the affairs of a corporation are not without limitations.  It is well established that corporate directors owe fiduciary duties, and more specifically, a duty of care and a duty of loyalty to corporate shareholders.  Those duties should always be at the front of mind of every director when any action or inaction is contemplated, but in particular, when addressing challenging issues facing the corporation.  Directors are afforded wide latitude under state corporate law, and by the courts interpreting those laws, to make decisions regarding the management of a corporation that are appropriately within the scope of the directors’ business judgement.  But courts, and in particular bankruptcy courts with an interest in protecting a number of different stakeholders, are not shy about reminding corporate directors that the scope of protection provided by the business judgment rule is not unlimited.  Such is the case with In re Sportco Holdings, Inc., et al., 2021 WL 4823513 (Bankr. D. Del.), a recent decision by the Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware.

Continue Reading Corporate Directors’ Exposure to Breach of Fiduciary Duty Claims

Forbes has created its inaugural “America’s Top Corporate Law Firms” list and worked with the market research firm Statistica to conduct an online survey of lawyers both at law firms and GCs between April 1 and May 17, 2019.

Self-recommendations were not considered and law firms that received the most recommendations were included