A simple statement of the April 28, 2010 holding in TI Acquisition, LLC, v. Southern Polymer, Inc. 2010 WL 1993848 (Bankr.N.D.Ga.), may paint the decision as adverse to creditor interests. Certainly, Judge Mary Grace Diehl held that “new value” paid as a 503(b)(9) administrative expense is unavailable in a “subsequent new value” defense to a bankruptcy preference claim. However, this holding is overshadowed
Does a supplier have to choose between asserting a subsequent new value bankruptcy preference defense and making a Section 503(b)(9) administrative expense request? Judge Marian F. Harrison of the Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Tennessee held on January 7, 2010 that a supplier does not have to choose. In the memorandum decision In re Commissary Operations, Inc. — B.R. —-, 2010 WL 99036 (Bkrtcy.M.D.Tenn.), Judge Harrison ruled that deliveries entitled to Section 503(b)(9) claim status are not disqualified from constituting new value for purposes of the subsequent new value defense to a bankruptcy preference claim.
In adding Section 503(b)(9) in the 2005 amendments to the Bankruptcy Code, did Congress intend that the supplier beneficiaries of the new section would wear a sign saying “BANKRUPTCY PREFERENCE TARGET – HIT ME”? This article challenges the growing use of bankruptcy preference actions under Section 547 to defeat and delay the allowance of Section 503(b)(9) administrative expense requests. As discussed below, the ploy subverts Congressional intent in adopting Section 503(b)(9). More fundamentally, the ploy ignores a basic tenet of the Bankruptcy Code that also is embodied in the prima facie requirements for bringing a bankruptcy preference action – “First Determine Priority.”
Bankrupt retailer and manufacturer attacks on allowance of administrative expenses under Section 503(b)(9) of the Bankruptcy Code are increasing in frequency, breadth and ingenuity. One recent case in which pervasive attacks have been launched on supplier 503(b)(9) requests is the Grede Foundries bankruptcy where the debtor has sought to disallow more than 99% of suppliers’ $5,100,000 in 503(b)(9) expense requests. The following table summarizes the 8 objections made to 503(b)(9) requests in the Grede Foundries bankruptcy.
December 22, 2009 Update: On December 21, 2009, Grede Foundries filed the affidavit of Eric W. Ek in support of the of the Debtor’s motion to authorize the sale of assets. The affidavit provides both additional background and updated information regarding the proposed Section 363 Sale to Wazata Opportunity Fund II, LLC, through its subsidiary, Iron Operating, LLC. The affidavit reveals that there was an alternative bidder at the auction.
Cooper-Standard Holdings Inc. and its affiliated debtors (“Cooper-Standard Automotive” or the “Debtors”) have combined into one motion a request to allow payment of 503(b)(9) administrative expense claims, a request to allow payment of critical vendors a/k/a essential suppliers, and a request to allow for payment of foreign vendors. The dollar amount of pre-petition claims Cooper-Standard Automotive is seeking to pay seems to vary between the motion and the interim and final orders. However, the relief requested in the interim order is for authority “to pay, in their sole discretion, as and when they come due, Essential [including 503(b)(9)] and Foreign Suppliers Claims in an amount that shall not exceed $19.5 million.”
The first day motion of Arclin US Holdings Inc. and its 6 co-debtor affiliates (“Arclin”) to pay “critical vendors” illustrates how dramatically the “critical vendor” concept can vary from industry to industry. The motion also illustrates how a “critical vendor” motion can be used by a debtor to extract post petition concessions from suppliers holding administrative expense claims under Section 503(b)(9). Finally, the case presents an interesting situation where a debtor argues in favor of inclusion of freight costs in 503(b)(9) claims.
Increasing instances of administrative insolvency, especially in the automotive sector, have caused many suppliers to question the value of 503(b)(9) claims. Even when administrative expense claims are impaired, however, 503(b)(9) claims can be worth substantially more than their face amounts in settlements of bankruptcy preference claims. Seldom do you see in one case, much less in one settlement order, the absolute worst and among the best examples of using this strategy. A recent settlement order in the Cadence Innovation bankruptcy provides this rare opportunity.
For any supplier and other bankruptcy creditor in the bankruptcy of Contech U.S., LLC , timely and properly filing an administrative expense claim under 11 USC § 503(b)(9) may provide the only prospect for payment of any portion of the creditors prepetition claims. Click this link for an article on this site discussing 503(b)(9), including answers to the most common questions regarding making these claims.
On March 26, 2009, 48 days after the Chapter 11 filing, the sale of the fluid routing business and assets of Fluid Routing Solutions was approved. The winning bidder a/k/a the only bidder was FRS Holding Corp., (“FRS Deux”) who was the “stalking horse bidder” and an admitted “affiliate of an insider of the Debtors” and affiliate of the DIP lender, Sun Fluid Routing Finance, LLC (“Sun”). The purchase price is $11 million “less Cure Amounts less Prorated Taxes, minus/plus the Closing Net Assets Shortfall/Surplus.”