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Financial versus Social Efficiency of Corporate Bankruptcy Law: the French Dilemma?

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  • Régis Blazy

    ()
    (Luxembourg School of Finance, University of Luxembourg)

  • Bertrand Chopard
  • Agnès Fimayer
  • Jean-Daniel Guigou
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    Abstract

    We study the French dilemma associated with court administered resolution of corporate financial distress of firms, in which bankruptcy courts have to combine both social efficiency (maintaining employment) and ex post financial efficiency (determining the best issue for financial distress, proxied here by the global recovery rate). We discuss this dilemma empirically, using a large sample of decisions of French commercial courts concerning the future of bankrupt firms (reorganization, sale as a going concern or liquidation). Addressing this dilemma, we discuss the determinants of bankruptcy courts’ selection between rival offers in sales as a going concern. Finally, we evaluate the financial cost of the French pro debtor system through the recovery rates of various claimants. Our main results are: (1) French commercial courts actively work to protect employment by facilitating continuation and reducing the domino effects of bankruptcy. (2) the courts’ choice between rival buyout offers confirms that social considerations prevail in the arbitration of bankruptcy courts. (3) Continuations through reorganization plans generate the highest recovery rates for all classes of creditors. (4) Contrary to the expected trade-off between social and financial efficiency, courts also enact measures to increase debt recovery once continuation has been chosen. However, for sales, recovery rates are inhibited by asset illiquidity and/or by the courts’ attempt to promote a firm’s continuation through sales at a low price.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Luxembourg School of Finance, University of Luxembourg in its series LSF Research Working Paper Series with number 07-02.

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    Date of creation: 2007
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    Handle: RePEc:crf:wpaper:07-02

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    Keywords: Bankruptcy; Reorganization; Liquidation; Recovery rate.;

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    1. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silane & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1996. "Law and Finance," NBER Working Papers 5661, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Francesca Cornelli & Leonardo Felli, 1996. "Ex-ante Efficiency of Bankruptcy Procedures," Finance 9610001, EconWPA.
    3. Philippe Aghion & Oliver Hart & John Moore, 1992. "The Economics of Bankruptcy Reform," CEP Discussion Papers dp0093, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
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    7. Allan C. Eberhart & Lemma W. Senbet, 1993. "Absolute Priority Rule Violations and Risk Incentives for Financially Distressed Firms," Financial Management, Financial Management Association, vol. 22(3), Fall.
    8. Eberhart, Allan C & Moore, William T & Roenfeldt, Rodney L, 1990. " Security Pricing and Deviations from the Absolute Priority Rule in Bankruptcy Proceedings," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 45(5), pages 1457-69, December.
    9. Ariane Lambert-Mogiliansky & Konstantin Sonin & Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, 2007. "Are Russian Commercial Courts Biased? Evidence from a Bankruptcy Law Transplant," Working Papers w0099, Center for Economic and Financial Research (CEFIR).
    10. Stanley D. Longhofer & Charles T. Carlstrom, 1995. "Absolute priority rule violations in bankruptcy," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, issue Q IV, pages 21-30.
    11. Julian R. Franks & Kjell G. Nyborg & Walter N. Torous, 1996. "A Comparison of UK, US and German Insolvency Codes," Financial Management, Financial Management Association, vol. 25(3), Fall.
    12. Dahiya, Sandeep & John, Kose & Puri, Manju & Ramirez, Gabriel, 2003. "Debtor-in-possession financing and bankruptcy resolution: Empirical evidence," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(1), pages 259-280, July.
    13. Weiss, Lawrence A., 1990. "Bankruptcy resolution: Direct costs and violation of priority of claims," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 285-314, October.
    14. Franks, Julian R. & Torous, Walter N., 1994. "A comparison of financial recontracting in distressed exchanges and chapter 11 reorganizations," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 349-370, June.
    15. Couwenberg, Oscar, 2001. "Survival rates in bankruptcy systems : overlooking the evidence," Research Report 01E15, University of Groningen, Research Institute SOM (Systems, Organisations and Management).
    16. Gertner, Robert & Scharfstein, David, 1991. " A Theory of Workouts and the Effects of Reorganization Law," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 46(4), pages 1189-1222, September.
    17. Oscar Couwenberg, 2001. "Survival Rates in Bankruptcy Systems: Overlooking the Evidence," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 12(3), pages 253-273, November.
    18. Edward R. Morrison, 2007. "Bankruptcy Decision Making: An Empirical Study of Continuation Bias in Small-Business Bankruptcies," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 50, pages 381-419.
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    Cited by:
    1. Chopard, Bertrand & Langlais, Eric, 2009. "Défaut de paiement stratégique et loi sur les défaillances d'entreprises
      [Strategic default and bankruptcy law]
      ," MPRA Paper 14366, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Dewaelheyns, Nico & Van Hulle, Cynthia, 2009. "Filtering speed in a Continental European reorganization procedure," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 375-387, December.
    3. Ingrid Groessl & Nadine Levratto, 2012. "International Similarities of Bank Lending Practices and Varieties of Insolvency Laws: a Comparative Analysis of France and Germany," Macroeconomics and Finance Series 201203, Hamburg University, Department Wirtschaft und Politik.

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