Unitranche Facilities – Continued Growth In An Uncertain Market: Part II

Author:Mr Rick Hyman
Profession:Duane Morris LLP
 
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In an earlier post, I generally discussed the structure of unitranche facilities and their growth in popularity among borrowers since the credit crisis. Of course, this explosive growth has occurred in a relatively benign economic environment. As a result, the inherent limitations of the structure have not been tested by a downturn or, in turn, by bankruptcy courts. Lenders exploring the market must do so with some caution and a fulsome understanding of the rights of, and limitations on, "first out" lenders in a distressed scenario.

By their nature, unitranche debt does not easily allow senior lenders to silence junior lenders in times of distress based on collateral valuation alone because all the borrower's obligations are secured by a single lien. Instead, protections must be carefully drafted into the AAL. These protections will include, for e.g., waivers of the ability of "last out" lenders to vote in favor of a contradictory plan of reorganization, restrictions on their rights to object to asset sales, and limitations on the rights of such lenders to provide post-petition financing. Similar provisions contained in first lien/second lien intercreditor agreements have been deemed enforceable "subordination provisions" in the context of a bankruptcy. The same should generally hold true for AALs. If an intercreditor dispute arises in the context of a borrower's bankruptcy, lenders should be mindful that a bankruptcy court might decline to accept jurisdiction (particularly if the borrower is not a party to the AAL), leaving an unrelated state or federal court to address the matter.

The existence of a common lien may also make it more difficult, and sometimes impossible, to reasonably argue that the senior lenders are over-secured and therefore entitled to post-petition interest and fees in the context of a bankruptcy case. AALs attempt to...

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