In a recent decision,1 Judge Sweet of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York affirmed a bankruptcy court decision and refused to recognize under chapter 15 of the Bankruptcy Code either as “foreign main proceedings” or as “foreign nonmain proceedings” the well-publicized liquidations brought in the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands by two Bear Stearns hedge funds (the “Funds”).
In the current market turmoil, several banking and insurance names have already had to be rescued by government-brokered packages. It is therefore timely to review what rights institutional investors have in the event of counterparty insolvency. Unfortunately, the picture is complicated, not just because the question of how pension fund investors can get their money back may have an international dimension, but also because governments keep moving the goalposts on the availability and adequacy of compensation schemes.
Where does the claim arise?
In a tumultuous year that is likely to be remembered for its extreme market volatility, skyrocketing commodity prices (e.g., crude oil hovering at $100 per barrel), a slumping housing market, the weakest U.S. dollar in decades versus major currencies, a ballooning trade deficit with significant overseas trading partners such as China, Japan, and the EU , and an unprecedented proliferation of giant private equity deals that quickly fizzled when the subprime mortgage meltdown made inexpensive corporate credit nearly impossible to come by, 2007 was anything but mundane.
As well as issuing claims in mistake and restitution in the BVI Commercial Court and the US State Supreme Court, the liquidators of Fairfield Sentry Limited (“the Fund”) also petitioned for and, on 22 July 2010 obtained, Chapter 15 recognition in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.
COMMODITY FUTURES TRADING COMMISSION v. LAKE SHORE ASSET MANAGEMENT LTD. (May 11, 2011)
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued its ruling in Marblegate Asset Management, LLC v. Education Management Corp. that provided much needed clarity to creditors and issuers involved in out-of-court restructurings affecting noteholders. The issue for the court was whether Education Management Corp. (“EDMC”) violated the Trust Indenture Act (the “TIA”) when it implemented a restructuring that impaired the rights of one of its unsecured noteholders, Marblegate Asset Management, LLC (the “Noteholder”).
As recently reported in our Fall 2007 issue, Judge Lifland’s decision in In re Bear Stearns High-Grade Structured Credit Strategies Master Fund, Ltd.,1 limited the ability of offshore funds in financial distress to utilize chapter 15 of the Bankruptcy Code.
In Bear Stearns High-Grade Structured Credit Strategies Master Fund, Ltd.,1 the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York refused to allow the foreign representatives of two Bear Stearns funds2 to institute ancillary proceedings under new chapter 15 of the United States Bankruptcy Code. There, Judge Lifland held that, even though the Funds were in liquidation proceedings in the Cayman Islands, those proceedings constituted neither “foreign main” nor “foreign non-main” proceedings for purposes of the U.S.
The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York recently affirmed a bankruptcy court’s denial of Chapter 15 protection for the U.S. assets of two Cayman Islands hedge funds (the “Funds”) (previously reported in SRZ’s Sept. 19, 2007, Alert, “Cayman Hedge Funds Liquidators’ Request for Chapter 15 Protection Denied by Bankruptcy Court”). See Civ. Case No. 07-8730 (S.D.N.Y. May 27, 2008) (the “Decision”).