Working Paper | 2011

The Ownership and Trading of Debt Claims in Chapter 11 Restructurings

by Victoria Ivashina, Benjamin Iverson and David C. Smith

Abstract

What is the ownership structure of bankrupt debt claims? How does the ownership evolve though bankruptcy? And how does debt ownership influence Chapter 11 outcomes? To answer these questions, we construct a data set that identifies the entire capital structure for 136 companies filing for U.S. Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection between 1998 and 2009 and that covers over 71,000 different investors. We categorize the investors in the capital structure of bankrupt firms according to their institutional type and track them from the initial filing until the vote on the plan of reorganization. We document several novel facts about the role of different institutional investors, the impact of debt ownership concentration, and the role of trading in bankruptcy. We find that trading during the case leads to higher concentration of ownership, particularly among debt claims that are eligible to vote on the bankruptcy plan of reorganization. Active investors, including hedge funds, are the largest net buyers of claims in bankruptcy. While initial ownership concentration is important for coordination of a prearranged bankruptcy filing, it is consolidation of ownership during bankruptcy—and specifically consolidation of ownership of voting classes—that has an impact on the speed of restructuring, the probability of liquidation, and class-level as well as overall recovery rates.

Keywords: ownership structure; distressed debt; trading in bankruptcy; Restructuring; Insolvency and Bankruptcy; Ownership;

Citation:

Ivashina, Victoria, Benjamin Iverson, and David C. Smith. "The Ownership and Trading of Debt Claims in Chapter 11 Restructurings." Working Paper, September 2011.