Liquidation Versus Continuation: Did Reorganized Firms Do The Right Thing?
Bankrupt firms should reorganize if the wealth created by continuing is expected to exceed the wealth that would be created by liquidating. We examine 89 firms that reorganized in Chapter 11 and find that, despite having sub-standard accounting profitability, nearly 80% created more wealth by continuing rather than liquidating. Even firms that later completed second debt restructurings, on average, should not have liquidated the first time around. Cross-sectional results indicate that firms that complete prepackaged bankruptcies, emerge from bankruptcy with low debt ratios, retain their pre-bankruptcy CEOs, and firms that avoid second restructurings are more successful under our performance measure. Among high growth-option firms, those whose net investment exceeds their industry median create more wealth than firms whose net investment is less than their industry median. However, among low growth option firms, superior performance is found among firms that shrink relative to their industry.
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