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Ch. 11 Filings to Increase With Fade of Extend and Pretend

Published: February 5th, 2020
Bankruptcy attorneys and advisers predict an increase in petitions this year as the energy, retail and healthcare sectors struggle while lenders are more open to foreclose on assets.

Lenders’ reluctance to consider the once popular practice of amending and extending maturing loans might push more borrowers to file for Chapter 11 in 2020, bankruptcy professionals say, despite predictions of a continued strong economy.

Advisers are expecting another increase in commercial bankruptcy filings in 2020, after the amount of all commercial filings rose by 2.4% year over year, to 38,944 in 2019. Chapter 11 filings increased slightly over that period as well, by 0.36%, according to bankruptcy data provider Epiq Systems Inc.

Sectors such as energy, retail and healthcare will continue to suffer in 2020 while the economy remains healthy, according to Timothy Walsh, head of restructuring and insolvency at McDermott Will & Emery LLP. Depressed energy prices will put pressure on oil and gas company capital structures, while retailers will continue to suffer from shrinking foot traffic at malls and shopping centers. Healthcare providers will struggle with rising costs and decreasing reimbursements.

Some energy, retail and healthcare companies will try to restructure debt but might need to file for bankruptcy instead because of lenders’ new confidence that they can find plenty of willing buyers for their collateral if they foreclose on borrowers, Walsh said.

The strong economy has given lenders confidence that if they foreclose they won’t have to hold the assets. They are also more likely to declare a default on a loan than to amend and extend a facility, Walsh said.

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