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Jonathan C. Lipson

Contracts

2010

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Controlling Creditor Opportunism, Jonathan C. Lipson Aug 2010

Controlling Creditor Opportunism, Jonathan C. Lipson

Jonathan C. Lipson

This paper addresses problems of creditor opportunism. “Distress investors” such as hedge funds, private equity funds, and investment banks are opportunistic when they use debt to obtain control of a financially troubled firm and extract improper gains at the expense of the firm and its other stakeholders. Examples include the mis-use of private information to short-sell a borrower’s securities and creditor self-dealing.

Creditors can act opportunistically because legal doctrines that historically checked such behavior—e.g., “lender liability”—have not kept pace with fundamental changes in the market for control of distressed firms. The recent Dodd-Frank financial reform is not likely to change …