Case | HBS Case Collection | January 2002 (Revised January 2003)

Finova Group, Inc. (A), The

by Stuart C. Gilson and Perry Fagan

Abstract

Finova Group, a $14 billion commercial finance company, filed for Chapter 11 in early March 2001, in what was one of the largest U.S. bankruptcy filings of all time and the largest corporate bond default since the Great Depression. While in Chapter 11, Finova became the object of a heated bidding contest. Under the final accepted plan of reorganization, "Berkadia" (partnership of Leucadia National Corp. and value-investor Warren Buffet's Bershire Hathaway) sponsored a massive recapitalization of Finova, providing a secured loan of $6 billion to buy out the unsecured bank and bond creditors. In return, Berkadia received 51% of the reorganized company's common stock and control of the board of directors. No development of new business was planned. A number of entities represented in the case, however, believed that the company might have substantial going concern value and were concerned that Berkadia would acquire the company at an artificially low price. During the bankruptcy, a large fraction of Finova's debt and equity claims were purchased by so-called "vulture investors," who hoped to influence the outcome of the case.

Keywords: Acquisition; Business Startups; Borrowing and Debt; Equity; Insolvency and Bankruptcy; Debt Securities; Price; Crisis Management; Bids and Bidding; Partners and Partnerships; Strategy; Valuation; Financial Services Industry; United States;

Citation:

Gilson, Stuart C., and Perry Fagan. "Finova Group, Inc. (A), The." Harvard Business School Case 202-095, January 2002. (Revised January 2003.)