One of the most significant benefits of acquiring assets out of a bankruptcy estate is the ability to obtain those assets free and clear of liens, claims, interests and encumbrances, pursuant to § 363 of the Bankruptcy Code and the terms of a bankruptcy court sale order.
We know 2015 was a bleak year for coal, oil and natural gas producers, with at least 67 bankruptcy filings. 2016 is not looking much better. Surpluses of coal, oil and natural gas continue to weigh down prices and threaten companies’ balance sheets.
Your client or borrower is a troubled business that desperately needs to find a buyer or new money, and fast. Somebody suggests that your client/borrower hire an intermediary, but the company already has one “offer” (for purchase, refinance, investment), so is reluctant to hire an investment banker to run a thorough process to find other possible solutions.
In September 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit issued an opinion in In re ICL Holding Co. Inc. that further reinforces the ability to use § 363 sales and settlements to resolve chapter 11 cases.
Section 363 sales are a common vehicle for a debtor and its creditors to receive fair value for the debtor’s assets through an open auction process supervised by the bankruptcy court. An open auction process is designed to generate a number of competitive offers for the debtor’s assets.
On June 16, 2015, the Asset Sales Committee sponsored a webinar titled Buying and Selling Oil & Gas Assets in Bankruptcy Cases. The presentation, by Thompson & Knight Partner Ira L. Herman, Greenberg Traurig Shareholder Shari Heyen and Conway MacKenzie Managing Director Bryan M. Gaston, is available in ABI’s CLE Center.
Over the past two decades, chapter 11 has become the favored forum for the sale of distressed companies in the U.S. Section 363 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code is a strong tool for maximizing the value of struggling companies and providing predictability in distress sales.
Post-Annual Spring Meeting is a time of change for ABI, including our committee's leadership! The term of John Hutton, our co-chair for the past several years, has ended, and Brad Sharp has been named as a new co-chair. Shaunna Jones has become our Newsletter Editor. To date, the Listserve Facilitator position remains open. If you are interested in joining the leadership team by filling this role, please email us. We thank those departing leaders who have served us well, and welcome aboard our new committee leaders.
Fracking, shorthand for hydraulic fracturing, is a type of drilling used by oil and gas prospectors. It involves drilling thousands of feet below the surface before gradually turning horizontal and continuing onward. As a result, an initially unsuccessful drilling site can give rise to several unique wells. Similarly, it is possible that a case that is unsuccessful at generating a unanimous decision may also present various twists and turns by a group of appellate judges, which can give rise to several unique opinions.
Under § 363 of the Bankruptcy Code, a trustee or debtor in possession may sell property “free and clear of any interest in such property of an entity other than the estate” if certain conditions are met. That property may be sold “free and clear of any interest” has the effect of blocking post-sale claims against the purchaser, as “principles underlying the finality of 363 sale orders” are considered “much too important” for a court to otherwise deny full enforcement.
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