Below is our initial take on recent bankruptcy-related developments:
WeWork plans bankruptcy filing as soon as next week, report says, in startling reversal from its heady days as a tech industry superstar| Fortune
The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday that WeWork plans to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in New Jersey as soon as next week. WeWork stated it had been having conversations with creditors regarding improving its balance sheet and taking necessary steps to rationalize its real estate footprint.
S&K Take: Looks like the next oft-discussed megacase is upon us. Many interesting ramifications of a WeWork bankruptcy, including the impact it will have on urban center commercial real estate. Landlords are already having trouble keeping their buildings occupied. If WeWork rejects a majority of its leases, there could be a lot of (more) pain in the sector. And if the report is right, chalk another one up for the Garden State, which is becoming the bankruptcy jurisdiction du jour. Curious to know if this one was planned for Texas with an NJ pivot (based on unnamed recent events), or always headed down the Turnpike?. Needless to say, we will probably be talking about this one next week.
Multiple law firms representing hundreds of former members of the Boy Scouts of America have asked U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Laurie Selber Silverstein to let their clients out of their commitment to a “quick pay” process with respect to their abuse claims.
S&K Take: The Boy Scouts plan has survived every attack to date, including the latest request for a stay pending appeal so that the Purdue Supreme Court decision could be considered. The Third Circuit shut down that option this week. While the plan remains intact, some of the mechanics of the plan are being scrutinized. The plan provided for a type of summary adjudication of claims, with those claims being paid quickly, but only in the amount of $3,500. Now it seems that some of the claimants that opted for the quick pay want to have their claims considered under the long form process with a potential for higher recovery. Judge Houser, who is overseeing the trust, has said the choice cannot be changed and the deadline is the deadline. We will see if Judge Silverstein agrees.
Jack Cooper Transport, one of the largest U.S. privately owned auto transport companies that counts General Motors, Ford and Stellantis as its primary customers, is considering a long-shot bid for Yellow as a going concern. The piecemeal liquidation of Yellow Corp’s trucking and terminal assets could start in December, in a deal that is presumed to value its real estate at $1.5 billion and its fleet of vehicles at hundreds of millions of dollars.
S&K Take: Interesting turn of events here. Yellow had some robust interest in its shipping centers, with the current bid at about $1.525 billion. Now it appears as though Jack Cooper, with at least some semblance of support of the Biden administration, is looking at making a going concern bid for the company. Clearly the government would like to salvage the 30,000 union jobs at Yellow, particularly with about a year until the 2024 election. Nice to see third party interest in the assets of a bankrupt company for a change. Who knew?
On Monday, Crypto exchange Bittrex was permitted bankruptcy court approval to shut down its operations in the U.S. after months of effort to give repay deposits to its customers. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Brendan Shannon accepted Bittrex’s bankruptcy plan, allowing the company to emerge from bankruptcy with a wind-down plan that will fully pay existing creditors.
S&K Take: A different take on a crypto bankruptcy—just return all of the assets to the customers over the course of the case, and have a little bit left over! This was distinguishable from most of the other cases of course. When Bittrex filed they didn’t have a massive hole on the balance sheet (looking at you, recently convicted fraudster SBF), so the path forward was a little more clear. They were only dealing with the SEC. Still, all things considered, a nice and relatively expedient result.