Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Cubs Bankruptcy illustrates efficacy of a 363 sale.

The Cubs prospective bankruptcy is a good illustration of how Section 363 of the Bankruptcy Code can assist in complicated and multi-dimensional businesses.  The Cubs is a good business and makes money.  The ivy covered walls of Wrigley Field are a beautiful backdrop to a great baseball experience, and occasionally, I say occasionally, good baseball.  The bad news is that the Cubs are owned by the same company that owns the Chicago Tribune, which while a great paper, is not a profitable business.  To make matters worse, there are bank loans of the Tribune Company which  secures the Cubs.  So, how can you sell the Cubs without either paying off all the secured claims of the Tribune Company or getting the secured creditors consent?

Section 363. 

Section 363 allows a debtor to sell assets over existing liens if the Court approves the sale. 

Section 363 (f) provides that: The trustee may sell property under subsection (b) or (c) of this section free and clear of any interest in such property of an entity other than the estate, only if—

(1) applicable nonbankruptcy law permits sale of such property free and clear of such interest;

(2) such entity consents;

(3) such interest is a lien and the price at which such property is to be sold is greater than the aggregate value of all liens on such property;

(4) such interest is in bona fide dispute; or

(5) such entity could be compelled, in a legal or equitable proceeding, to accept a money satisfaction of such interest.

In the case of the Cubs, like most 363 sales, the sale would most likely be approved under section (5), which is really a "catch all."  Also, Court's find "bona fide" disputes often.  Regardless, the Tribune Company would be able to sell their most valuable asset.  In fact, the threat of bankruptcy, will most likely force the secured creditor to consent. 

So, have a valuable asset that you need to sell over excessive liens.  Can't get the secured lender to consent.  Use section 363 to leverage the secured lenders, or if they won't agree, file bankruptcy and sell the business in a bankruptcy court authorized sale.

And I didn't ever use any baseball metaphor.

Could Chapter 11 Help the Chicago Cubs Turn the Page? | Bleacher Report

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