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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

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.

Suggested Citation

  • John Armour & Audrey Hsu & Adrian Walters, 2006. "The costs and benefits of secured creditor control in bankruptcy: Evidence from the UK," Working Papers wp332, Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge.
  • Handle: RePEc:cbr:cbrwps:wp332
    Note: PRO-2
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    File URL: https://www.cbr.cam.ac.uk/fileadmin/user_upload/centre-for-business-research/downloads/working-papers/wp332.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Philippe Aghion & Oliver D. Hart & John Moore, 1994. "The Economics of Bankruptcy Reform," NBER Chapters,in: The Transition in Eastern Europe, Volume 2: Restructuring, pages 215-244 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1997. " A Survey of Corporate Governance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 52(2), pages 737-783, June.
    3. 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, June.
    4. repec:hrv:faseco:30728046 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Schwartz, Alan, 1997. "Contracting about Bankruptcy," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 13(1), pages 127-146, April.
    6. John Armour, 2006. "Should we redistribute in insolvency," Working Papers wp319, Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge.
    7. 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, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. Barry E. Adler, 2012. "Game-Theoretic Bankruptcy Valuation," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 41(1), pages 209-238.
    4. 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 "Giovanni Anania" - DESF.
    5. 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.

    More about this item

    Keywords

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

    JEL classification:

    • G33 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Bankruptcy; Liquidation
    • K22 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - Business and Securities Law
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages

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