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Examining Success, Jonathan C. Lipson Feb 2015

Examining Success, Jonathan C. Lipson

Jonathan C. Lipson

Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code presumes that managers will remain in possession and control of a corporate debtor. This presents an obvious agency problem: these same managers may have gotten the company into trouble in the first place. The Bankruptcy Code thus includes checks and balances in the reorganization process, one of which is supposed to be an “examiner,” a private individual appointed to investigate and report on the debtor’s collapse.

We study their use in practice. Extending prior research, we find that examiners are exceedingly rare, despite the fact that they should be “mandatory” in large cases ($5 …


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 …