Milbank Prevails in Appeal Before the Second Circuit with Significant Implications for Corporate Debt Market
Decision restores certainty to issuers and creditors and stability to the corporate debt market
19 Jan, 2017, 15:00 ET
NEW YORK, Jan. 19, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP has secured a significant victory in the Second Circuit that attracted wide-spread attention in the financial markets. The decision restores much-needed certainty regarding the legality of out-of-court debt restructurings, and it brings stability to the corporate debt market as a whole. The case has been closely watched by investors and other market participants for over two years.
The closely watched appeal before the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit challenged the district court's decision in Marblegate Asset Management, LLC v. Education Management Finance Corp. that held that Education Management's out-of-court debt restructuring did not violate the Trust Indenture Act.
At issue is the out-of-court restructuring of Education Management Corporation and its affiliates, with the support of an overwhelming majority of their secured and unsecured creditors, that reduced the Company's debt burden by approximately $1.1 billion. As part of the restructuring, secured lenders that were owed approximately $1.3 billion foreclosed on their collateral and triggered a contractual release of a guaranty that the parent corporation had provided in favor of the Company's unsecured noteholders. One of the unsecured noteholders holding 2% of the company's overall debt -- a hedge fund that specializes in trading distressed debt -- challenged the Company's restructuring and sought an injunction. The district court below denied the requested injunction and allowed the restructuring to proceed, but held that section 316(b) of the Trust Indenture Act entitled the holdout hedge fund to full payment of principal and interest on its notes.
The district court's decision generated significant uncertainty in the world of debt restructurings and the capital markets: market participants, scholars, and prominent restructuring advisors viewed the decision as calling into question the legality of a wide variety of corporate transactions by bond issuers; the ability of issuers to restructure obligations outside of costly bankruptcy proceedings; and the right of secured creditors to exercise their state-law foreclosure rights. The decision generated considerable academic scholarship, and spawned a series of new lawsuits challenging the propriety of corporate transactions that are now pending before the district courts.
According to commentators who have written about the case, as a result of the district court's decision, "out-of-court restructurings of public debt [had] largely ground to a halt," and borrowers were increasingly pursuing private debt offerings, rather than public offerings that are subject to the Trust Indenture Act. Yesterday's ruling by the Second Circuit should restore confidence in an issuer's ability to reorganize outside of bankruptcy and in its secured creditors' ability to exercise remedies without being accused of violating the TIA.
The decision represents a critical development in the law governing corporate debt. It holds that section 316(b) only prohibits non-consensual, formal amendments to an indenture's "core payment terms." This bright-line rule, which conforms to the traditional understanding of the statute, makes unmistakably clear that corporate transactions do not violate section 316(b) merely because of the practical effect they may have on a bondholder's ability to collect payment. The decision will affect an array of recent lawsuits commenced under the TIA, in which bondholders sought to challenge various types of corporate transactions based on allegations that the transactions made issuers less financially capable of paying their debts.
The appeal was argued by Milbank Litigation partner Antonia Apps on behalf of the Steering Committee for the Ad Hoc Committee of Term Loan Lenders of Education Management, LLC. The Milbank team also included Financial Restructuring partner Gregory Bray, Litigation partner Aaron Renenger, Litigation special counsel Alexander Lees and associate James Burke argued on behalf of the Steering Committee for the Ad Hoc Committee of Term Loan Lenders of Education Management, LLC. Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, argued on behalf of Education Management.
Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP is a leading international law firm that provides innovative legal services to clients around the world. Founded in New York 150 years ago, Milbank has offices in Beijing, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, Munich, São Paulo, Seoul, Singapore, Tokyo and Washington, DC. Milbank's lawyers collaborate across practices and offices to help the world's leading commercial, financial and industrial enterprises, as well as institutions, individuals and governments, achieve their strategic objectives. For more information, please visit www.milbank.com.
From: Jocelyn De Carvalho, Public Relations Manager; 212-530-5509; [email protected]
SOURCE Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP
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