Welcome to 2.3 BILLION more of your money that you'll never see, because crooks took it.
NY Times, at:
CIT Files for Bankruptcy
November 1, 2009, 2:15 pm
Update | 3:46 p.m. Three months ago, the CIT Group barely averted what it considered to be a ruinous bankruptcy filing that would likely have put the 101-year-old lender out of business.
On Sunday afternoon, the company filed for Chapter 11 — but under a so-called prepackaged bankruptcy plan that will enable it to emerge from court protection by the end of the year. (Read the filing after the jump.)
Sunday’s filing, made in a Manhattan federal court, caps months of efforts by CIT to stay alive. After being denied another bailout by the federal government, the company bargained with its creditors over a restructuring plan that would keep it operating and slash its heavy debt load, including $30 billion in bond debt.
While CIT had hoped to stay out of bankruptcy court through a bond exchange offer, that plan failed to win enough support from bondholders, the company said in a statement.
With $71 billion in assets and nearly $65 billion in liabilities, CIT is among the largest corporate bankruptcies on record, though it is dwarfed by the likes of Lehman Brothers and Washington Mutual. The company said in its bankruptcy petition that it had $800 million in bonds maturing from Sunday through Tuesday.
CIT’s filing will test whether a financial company can survive the Chapter 11 process. Bankruptcy has long been considered a death knell for lenders, whose very existence depends on the confidence of its creditors and customers. The company’s struggles have been watched with interest and trepidation by analysts and the thousands of small and mid-sized businesses that borrow from CIT.
Yet the filing will still mean much pain for many parties, beginning with taxpayers. CIT received $2.3 billion in government aid last year, a bailout that came in the form of preferred stock. That will almost certainly be wiped out in the bankruptcy process, the first definitive loss in the government’s rescue of the financial system.
Jeffrey M. Peek, the company’s chief executive and the architect of its push to grow beyond its sleepy industrial-lending roots into a major new financial player, will step down by the end of the year.
Bondholders will receive about 70 cents on the dollar through the prepackaged bankruptcy, though the company warned that investors could receive as little as 6 cents on the dollar in the alternative, a free-fall bankruptcy that lacked a pre-approved reorganization plan.
Last month, CIT unveiled its debt exchange offer, which would have let bondholders tender their holdings for new, longer-dated bonds and preferred stock. But it also began soliciting votes for the prepackaged bankruptcy option. Under federal bankruptcy law, approval of such a plan requires the support of more than 51 percent of the number of creditors voting and more than two-thirds of the dollar value of those bonds.
CIT said in a statement that about holders of about 85 percent of its $30 billion in bond debt participated in the voting. Those investors voted almost unanimously to support the prepackaged bankruptcy plan.
Last week, the company secured several important agreements to aid its prepackaged bankruptcy plan. It obtained a $4.5 billion loan from several investors, including bondholders who lent it $3 billion earlier this summer. It also reached an accord with Goldman Sachs that would preserve a $2.13 billion loan even through bankruptcy protection, while paying only a portion of a $1 billion termination fee.
CIT also ended a fight with Mr. Icahn, who had offered to pay bondholders 60 cents on the dollar if they rejected the company’s prepackaged bankruptcy offering. Mr. Icahn instead offered a $1 billion loan, although people close to CIT said the company is not expected to use the financing.
The company will be represented in bankruptcy by the investment bank Evercore Partners, the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and the turnaround consulting firm FTI Consulting.
– Michael J. de la Merced