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The costs and benefits of secured creditor control in bankruptcy: Evidence from the UK

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  • John Armour
  • Audrey Hsu
  • Adrian Walters
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    Abstract

    Recent theoretical literature has debated the desirability of permitting debtors to contract with lenders over control rights in bankruptcy. Proponents point to the monitoring benefits brought from concentrating control rights in the hands of a single lender. Detractors point to the costs imposed on other creditors by a senior claimant's inadequate incentives to maximise net recoveries. The UK provides the setting for a natural experiment regarding these theories. Until recently, UK bankruptcy law permitted firms to give complete ex post control to secured creditors, through a procedure known as Receivership. Receivership was replaced in 2003 by a new procedure, Administration, which was intended to introduce greater accountability to unsecured creditors to the governance of bankrupt firms, through a combination of voting rights and fiduciary duties. We present empirical findings from a hand-coded sample of 348 bankruptcies from both before and after the change in the law, supplemented with qualitative interview data. We find robust evidence that whilst gross realisations have increased following the change in the law, these have tended to be eaten up by concomitantly increased bankruptcy costs. The net result has been that creditor recoveries have remained unchanged. This implies that dispersed and concentrated creditor governance in bankruptcy may be functionally equivalent.

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    File URL: http://www.cbr.cam.ac.uk/pdf/WP332.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by ESRC Centre for Business Research in its series ESRC Centre for Business Research - Working Papers with number wp332.

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    Date of creation: Sep 2006
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    Handle: RePEc:cbr:cbrwps:wp332

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    Web page: http://www.cbr.cam.ac.uk/

    Related research

    Keywords: Bankruptcy costs; Contract bankruptcy; Secured creditor control; UK; receivership; administration;

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    1. Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1995. "A Survey of Corporate Governance," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1741, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    2. Alan Schwartz, 1997. "Contracting About Bankruptcy," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm71, Yale School of Management.
    3. Aghion, P. & Hart, O. & Moore, J., 1992. "The Economics of Bankruptcy Reform," Working papers 92-11, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
    4. Julian Franks & Oren Sussman, 2005. "Financial Distress and Bank Restructuring of Small to Medium Size UK Companies," Review of Finance, Springer, vol. 9(1), pages 65-96, 03.
    5. John Armour, 2006. "Should we redistribute in insolvency," ESRC Centre for Business Research - Working Papers wp319, ESRC Centre for Business Research.
    6. Arturo Bris & Ivo Welch & Ning Zhu, 2006. "The Costs of Bankruptcy: Chapter 7 Liquidation versus Chapter 11 Reorganization," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 61(3), pages 1253-1303, 06.
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    Cited by:
    1. Oscar Couwenberg & Abe Jong, 2008. "Costs and recovery rates in the Dutch liquidation-based bankruptcy system," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 26(2), pages 105-127, October.
    2. Blazy, Régis & Deffains, Bruno & Umbhauer, Gisèle & Weill, Laurent, 2013. "Severe or gentle bankruptcy law: Which impact on investing and financing decisions?," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 129-144.
    3. Marianna Succurro, 2008. "Bankruptcy Systems And Economic Performance Across Contries: Some Empirical Evidence," Working Papers 200801, Università della Calabria, Dipartimento di Economia, Statistica e Finanza (Ex Dipartimento di Economia e Statistica).
    4. Blazy, Régis & Chopard, Bertrand & Fimayer, Agnès & Guigou, Jean-Daniel, 2011. "Employment preservation vs. creditors' repayment under bankruptcy law: The French dilemma?," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 126-141, June.

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