Effect of Chapter 11 on Stockholders

Unlike Chapter 7, Chapter 11 allows a company to continue trading, but this isn't necessarily always good news for stockholders. There is always the risk that a company's stock value may decrease as well as increase. When a company is reorganizing through Chapter 11 values usually plummet and it is not uncommon for shares to become worthless. If a publicly traded company files under Chapter 11 it is normally de-listed but can resume trading listed as over the counter (OTC stocks.)

What Happens To The Stocks?

Normally, when a company goes bankrupt, there is a very good chance that stockholders will not get back anything close to the full amount of their investment. Even if a company does successfully restructure, you may still lose money. As a stockholder, your status once a company files under bankruptcy protection will change. Under Chapter 11, stockholders will cease to receive dividends and the appointed trustee may ask that stocks are returned in order to be replaced with shares in the reorganized company. However, you may also receive fewer shares, the value of which is worth less than the original stocks.

The Debtor In Possession

After the bankruptcy petition is filed, the debtor becomes known as the "debtor in possession." In the case of a corporation, as it is a separate entity from its stockholders, the only assets that are at risk of the stockholders are the company's stock. Unlike the situation with individual or in certain situations with partnership bankruptcy the personal assets of the stockholders are protected from the bankruptcy.

The Creditors' Committee

The U.S. trustee appoints a Creditors' Committee which is normally made up of the highest value unsecured creditors. This group can have a considerable role in the bankruptcy case and may hire their own representatives such as an attorney and other experts to help them investigate how the business is being run. The Creditors' Committee also works alongside the debtor in possession (i.e. the company filing under chapter 11) regarding administration of the case as well as helping to formulate a way forward.

Shares in corporations are classed as Equity Security and under chapter 11 holders of equity security are entitled to vote on the reorganization plan. However, if a conflicting plan is filed by a higher class of creditor, the court will take the status of the creditors into consideration when seeking to determine which plan to confirm.

Which Creditors Take Priority?

Secured creditors take priority over other unsecured creditors and as such they are more likely to receive a higher percentage of their original investments. Stockholders and unsecured creditors however are only considered after the secured creditors which means that they may receive little or no money back by way of compensation. Stockholders are often last in line after unsecured creditors such as suppliers, banks and bondholders.

Are you worried about your financial situation? Consult a bankruptcy attorney in your area today to discuss your options.

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