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Law Pro
Law Pro, Attorney
Category: Business Law
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Experience:  20 years experience in business law - sole proprietor, partnership, and corporations
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If GM goes into bankruptcy and then re-emerges, what will happen

Resolved Question:

If GM goes into bankruptcy and then re-emerges, what will happen to shareholders? Will the stockholders still own the company?
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Business Law
Expert:  Law Pro replied 7 years ago.

The shareholders will still own the company at the same percentage or number of shares just as before GM petitioned for bankrupcty.


GM, if they file or petition for bankrupcty, will petition for a chapter 11.


Chapter 11 is a chapter of the United States Bankruptcy Code, which permits reorganization under the bankruptcy laws of the United States. Chapter 11 bankruptcy is available to any business, whether organized as a corporation or sole proprietorship, and to individuals, although it is most prominently used by corporate entities. In contrast, Chapter 7 governs the process of a liquidation bankruptcy, while Chapter 13 provides a reorganization process for the majority of private individuals.


Chapter 11 bankruptcy retains many of the features present in all, or most bankruptcy proceedings in the United States. It also provides additional tools for debtors as well. Most importantly, 11 U.S.C. § 1108 empowers the trustee to operate the debtor's business. In Chapter 11, unless appointed for cause, the debtor acts as trustee of the business.


Bankruptcy affords the debtor in possession a number of mechanisms to restructure its business. A debtor in possession can acquire financing and loans on favorable terms by giving new lenders first priority on the business' earnings. The court may also permit the debtor in possession to reject and cancel contracts. Debtors are also protected from other litigation against the business through the imposition of an automatic stay. While the automatic stay is in place, most litigation against the debtor is stayed, or put on hold, until it can be resolved in bankruptcy court, or resumed in its original venue.


If the business's debts exceed its assets, the bankruptcy restructuring results in the company's owners being left with nothing; instead, the owners' rights and interests are ended and the company's creditors are left with ownership of the newly reorganized company.


All creditors are entitled to be heard by the court. The court is ultimately responsible for determining whether the proposed plan of reorganization complies with the bankruptcy law.


Chapter 11 is reorganization, as opposed to liquidation. Debtors may "emerge" from a Chapter 11 bankruptcy within a few months or within several years, depending on the size and complexity of the bankruptcy. The Bankruptcy Code accomplishes this objective through the use of a bankruptcy plan. With some exceptions, the plan may be proposed by any party in interest. Interested creditors then vote for a plan. Upon its confirmation, the plan becomes binding and identifies the treatment of debts and operations of the business for the duration of the plan.


Debtors in Chapter 11 have the exclusive right to propose a plan of reorganization for a period of time (in most cases 120 days). After that time has elapsed, creditors may also propose plans. Plans must satisfy a number of criteria in order to be "confirmed" by the bankruptcy court. Among other things, creditors must vote to approve the plan of reorganization. If a plan cannot be confirmed, the court may either convert the case to a liquidation under Chapter 7, or, if in the best interests of the creditors and the estate, the case may be dismissed resulting in a return to the status quo before bankruptcy. If the case is dismissed, creditors will look to nonbankruptcy law in order to satisfy their claims.


In enacting Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy code, Congress concluded that it is sometimes the case that the value of a business is greater if sold or reorganized as a going concern than the value of the sum of its parts if the business's assets were to be sold off individually. It follows that it may be more economically efficient to allow a troubled company to continue running, cancel some of its debts, and give ownership of the newly reorganized company to the creditors whose debts were canceled. Alternatively, the business can be sold as a going concern with the net proceeds of the sale distributed to creditors ratably in accordance with statutory priorities. In this way, jobs may be saved, the (previously mismanaged) engine of profitability which is the business is maintained (presumably under better management) rather than being dismantled, and, as a proponent of a chapter 11 plan is required to demonstrate as a precursor to plan confirmation, the business's creditors end up with more money than they would in a Chapter 7 liquidation.

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