In August 2019, effective in February 2020, Congress enacted SBRA in response to complaints the 2005 Chapter 11 was too cumbersome (and expensive) for small businesses. Unfortunately, only businesses with less than 2.726 million of debt were eligible. The virus-driven CARES Act later raised the cap (temporarily) to 7.5 million. The SBRA provides that so long as secured creditors receive the value of their collateral (over time), and the debtor pays all of its discretionary income (after operating expenses) to unsecured creditors for 3-5 years, the debtor (individual or corporate) can retain ownership of the business. Some features:
A “SBRA Trustee” is appointed to help (but not replace) debtor’s management;
A Plan with Disclosure Statement is to be proposed in the first 90 days;
Creditors can’t propose a Plan or vote on debtor’s Plan of Reorganization;
The “absolute priority rule” is eliminated (it required owners paying creditors in full or injecting new capital to retain ownership); and
Certain burdensome admin reporting and financial requirements were relaxed or eliminated.
The SBRA was negotiated and enacted before the COVID-19 pandemic. In its wake, corporations urged Congress to raise the debt ceiling to 10 million. In response, the CARES Act increased the debt limit to 7.5 million for cases filed before March 27, 2021. After this deadline the cap reverts to 2.726 million. Temporary, but disabling, reductions of cash flow are impairing otherwise viable businesses. SBRA/CARES provide an opportunity for struggling business debtors to discount and stretch out repayment of suspended landlord, vendor, and other similar payment-deferred obligations. If the foregoing debt restructuring provisions (the crisis “vaccine”) seem helpful, and/or necessary, management should contact reorganization attorney Jon Clarke for further details and discussion.
Bankruptcy Intake Form and Service Questionnairewebadmin2020-03-24T17:17:10-07:00
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