Duration of Chapter 11 Cases Slowing, but some are Bucking the Trend

 

Chapter 11 pic

Chapter 11
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A bankruptcy and restructuring attorney, Norman Kinel is a partner at the international law firm Squire Patton Boggs. Over the course of more than 30 years, he has handled complex bankruptcy cases as a partner in several prominent law firms based in New York City and earned industry accolades that include several Turnaround Atlas Awards and multiple recognitions as a “Super Lawyer.” A graduate of the American University Washington College of Law, Norman Kinel frequently writes articles for industry publications about developments in the bankruptcy field.

Writing on eSquire Global Crossings, Mr. Kinel analyzed the findings of a recent Fitch Ratings report that suggests the average duration of Chapter 11 bankruptcy cases has grown significantly shorter over the last few years. According to Mr. Kinel, who has been involved in many dozens of these cases throughout his career, these findings are not entirely surprising, as an increased reliance on prepackaged reorganization plans in Chapter 11 cases has made for a simpler confirmation process.

However, not all Chapter 11 cases have followed this trend. For example, while the average Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding in 2017 lasted only four months, and the average of all cases from 2003 to 2018 was seven months, the Energy Future Holdings bankruptcy case lasted a full four years. Other notable cases that took much longer than average include the Interstate Bakeries Corp. proceedings, which lasted 51 months, and the two-year Calpine Corporation case.

When analyzing these lengthier cases, several commonalities emerge. Among other factors, these longer cases often involve legacy liabilities such as underfunded pension plans or complex transactions such as leveraged buyouts. In other cases, longer proceedings can simply be attributed to bad timing, with the specific economic environment of the companies’ respective industries slowing the process.