Stuart C. Gilson
Steven R. Fenster Professor of Business Administration
Professor Stuart Gilson is the Steven R. Fenster Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, and former chairman of the Finance Area of the School. Professor Gilson’s research, teaching, and consulting activities focus on the operational, financial, and legal strategies that companies use to revitalize their business, improve performance, and create value when operating in a challenging business environment. He is an expert on corporate restructuring, valuation, business bankruptcy, credit analysis, financial analysis, and financial strategy.
Professor Gilson’s research has been published by leading academic and practitioner journals and has been cited by the national news media, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Business Week, and Bloomberg. His work has received numerous honors, including the prestigious Graham and Dodd Award for his article on investment strategies used by credit-oriented investors to acquire control and create value in highly leveraged and financially distressed companies.
For twenty years he has taught one of the most popular courses in Harvard’s MBA curriculum, Creating Value Through Corporate Restructuring. He currently teaches in the Advanced Management Program, and has taught in a variety of Harvard’s other Executive Education programs, including Finance For Senior Executives, CEO/WPO, and Corporate Restructuring, Mergers and Acquisitions.
Professor Gilson has written more than sixty Harvard Business School case studies and teaching notes that are used in business schools throughout the world. A number of these cases have been published in his book Creating Value Through Corporate Restructuring: Case Studies in Bankruptcies, Buyouts, and Breakups (John Wiley & Sons), now in its second edition.
Professor Gilson serves as a consultant for a variety of companies and organizations. He has provided focused executive training programs for a number of Fortune 500 companies. He is currently a director of Advanced Alloy Processing LLC. He has served on the advisory boards of various for-profit and non-profit organizations, including the Academic Advisory Board of the Turnaround Management Association (as co-chair) and several investment funds. He provides expert testimony on business valuation, corporate restructuring and bankruptcy, credit analysis, and corporate finance, and is an academic affiliate of Cornerstone Research, a leading economic consulting firm.
Professor Gilson received his B.A. degree from the University of Manitoba; his Masters degree from the University of British Columbia; and his Ph.D. in Finance from the University of Rochester, New York. He lives with his wife in the town of Brookline, Massachusetts.
Creating Value through Corporate Restructuring: Case Studies in Bankruptcies, Buyouts, and Breakups
From the publisher: Stuart Gilson is one of the leading corporate restructuring experts in the United States, teaching thousands of students and consulting with numerous companies. Now, in the second edition of this bestselling book, Gilson returns to present new insight into the corporate restructuring process. Through real-world case studies that involve some of the most prominent restructurings of the last ten years, and highlighting the increased role of hedge funds in distressed investing, you'll develop a better sense of the restructuring process and how it can truly create value. Topics covered include corporate bankruptcy reorganization, debt workouts, distressed debt investing strategies, equity spin-offs, asset divestitures, employee layoffs, and corporate downsizing. Integrative chapters address how value should be estimated and allocated, and when a corporation should "pull the trigger." Cases include Delphi and General Motors, the Finova Group and Warren Buffett, Kmart and Sears, Adelphia Communications, Seagate Technology, Dupont-Conoco, and the Eurotunnel debt restructuring. From hedge funds to financial fraud to subprime busts, this second edition offers a rare look at some of the most innovative and controversial restructurings ever.
Cashing out: The Rise of M&A in Bankruptcy
The use of M&A in bankruptcy has increased dramatically in recent years, leading to concerns that the Chapter 11 process has shifted toward excessive liquidation of viable firms. In this paper, we argue that the rise of M&A has blurred traditional distinctions between “reorganization” and “liquidation”. We examine the drivers of M&A activity, based on factors specific to Chapter 11 as well as more general factors that drive M&A waves for non-distressed firms. M&A in bankruptcy is counter-cyclical, and is more likely when the costs of financing a reorganization are greater than financing costs to a potential acquirer. Consistent with a senior creditor liquidation bias, the greater use of secured debt leads to more sales in bankruptcy – but, this result holds only for sales that preserve going concern value. We also show that overall creditor recovery rates are higher, and unsecured creditor recoveries and post-bankruptcy survival rates are not different, when bankrupt firms sell businesses as going concerns.
Coming Through in a Crisis: How Chapter 11 and the Debt Restructuring Industry Are Helping to Revive the U.S. Economy
During the recent financial crisis, U.S. bankruptcy courts and debt restructuring practitioners were faced with the largest wave of corporate defaults and bankruptcies in history. In 2008 and 2009, $1.8 trillion worth of public company assets entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection - almost 20 times the amount during the prior two years. And the portfolio companies of U.S. private equity firms faced a towering wall of debt that, many observers predicted, was about to wipe out most of the industry. But far from the death of private equity or a severe contraction of corporate America, the past three years have seen an astonishingly rapid working off of U.S. corporate debt overhang, allowing corporate profits and values to rebound with remarkable speed and vigor. And as Professor Gilson argues, corporate America's recovery from the recent financial crisis provides a clear demonstration of the importance of U.S. bankruptcy laws and restructuring practices in maintaining the competitiveness of U.S. companies and the long run growth of the U.S. economy.
School Specialty Inc. (HBS Case #214084)
(With Kristin Mugford) Set in 2013, School Specialty was a financially troubled supplier of educational products to primary and secondary schools in the United States. The company planned to file Chapter 11 in order to address its excessive debt load, but needed to arrange debtor-in-possession financing to provide liquidity while in bankruptcy. The company has received a financing proposal from its existing term loan lender that includes some aggressive and unusual features. This includes the requirement that, immediately upon filing for Chapter 11, School Specialty undertake to sell its assets under Section 363 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. The Company must decide whether to accept this proposal, and what other options may be available.
Countrywide plc (HBS Case #211026)
One of the world's leading investors in distressed companies, Oaktree Capital Management, is contemplating a "loan to own" investment in the debt of Countrywide plc, a financially troubled residential real estate agent based in the U.K. Only sixteen months earlier, Countrywide was acquired by private equity investor Apollo Management L.P. in a leveraged buyout. Although Countrywide is the largest real estate agent in the U.K., and has a strong portfolio of assets, its economic fortunes have declined suddenly with the widespread collapse of global financial and real estate markets, putting it in danger of defaulting on its debt and having to restructure under a U.K. Scheme of Arrangement.
Lyondell Chemical Company (HBS Case #210001)
Hit with an industry recession and the global financial crisis of 2008, in January 2009 LyondellBasell Industries AF S.C.A., one of the world's largest internationally diversified chemical companies and headquartered in The Netherlands, placed its U.S. operations and a German subsidiary under U.S. Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. To successfully reorganize as a going concern, the company sought to raise over $8 billion in a super-priority "Debtor-in-Possession (DIP)" loan from a group of thirteen financial institutions, including commercial banks, investment banks, hedge funds, and private equity funds. Representing one of the largest DIP loans in history, this financing was considered critical to the company's survival. One unique and controversial feature of the financing was a $3.25 billion 'Roll-Up" facility, under which a number of Lyondell's pre-bankruptcy lenders were allowed to significantly elevate the priority of debts they were already owed (so that they ranked ahead of all other pre-bankruptcy debts owed by the company), provided the lenders advanced new loans to the company to help finance its restructuring. With a costly liquidation as the alternative, various creditor groups objected to the DIP financing package, putting Lyondell's reorganization, and survival as a going concern, at significant risk.
W.R. Grace & Co: Dealing with Asbestos Torts (HBS Case #213046)
A manufacturer of building products and specialty chemicals, W. R. Grace & Co. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in response to a flood of lawsuits alleging that its products contained asbestos, and had caused hundreds of thousands of people to contract asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma and lung cancer. Nine years later, Grace is poised to emerge from bankruptcy with a plan of reorganization that provides for the establishment of two special purpose trusts through which all current and future asbestos claims will be channeled, allowing the company to survive as an ongoing business. However, the company and asbestos claimholders' committees materially disagree over the size of the company's liability for asbestos, and have hired experts to value the liability. Grace's expert argues the liability is worth between $83 million and $173 million, while the plaintiff's expert argues the liability could be as high as $6.2 billion.
Do Analysts Add Value When They Most Can? Evidence from Corporate Spin Offs
(With Emilie Feldman and Belen Villalonga) This article investigates how securities analysts help investors understand the value of diversification. By studying the research that analysts produce about companies that have announced corporate spin-offs, we gain unique insights into how analysts portray diversified firms to the investment community. We find that while analysts' research about these companies is associated with improved forecast accuracy, the value of their research about the spun-off subsidiaries is more limited. For both diversified firms and their spun-off subsidiaries, analysts' research is more valuable when information asymmetry between the management of these entities and investors is higher. These findings contribute to the corporate strategy literature by shedding light on the roots of the diversification discount and by showing how analysts' research enables investors to overcome asymmetric information.