The Beauty of Belk

American Bankruptcy Law Journal (2023)

USC CLASS Research Paper No. 24-6

32 Pages Posted: 17 Oct 2023 Last revised: 22 Jan 2024

See all articles by Robert K. Rasmussen

Robert K. Rasmussen

University of Southern California Gould School of Law

Roye Zur

Independent

Date Written: September 5, 2023

Abstract

Professor Lynn LoPucki has asserted that Chapter 11, at least for large companies, has become a lawless forum where bankruptcy judges have jettisoned fealty to the Bankruptcy Code in order to attract cases to their courts. The poster child that he offers for this assertion is the recent sixteen-hour Chapter 11 case of Belk. In this article, we take issue with his characterization of that case. Belk, a chain of department stores, was taken over by a private equity sponsor in 2015. Its funded debt was held exclusively by institutional investors. The pandemic acerbated the company’s financial challenges. In response to these challenges, Belk, its sponsor, and representatives of its debt holders negotiated a deal that altered the company’s capital structure. New money was invested, funded debt was reduced, and the sponsor’s equity share was nearly halved. No employees were let go; no leases were rejected; no trade creditors missed a payment. All holders of the affected debt voted in favor of the restructuring. With a unanimous agreement in hand, Belk filed a prepackaged plan of reorganization in the Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas. The case lasted for less than a day. During that time, the bankruptcy judge crafted an order designed to ensure that parties that were not part of the agreement had their rights preserved. The confirmed plan, in both substance and procedure, complies with all applicable provisions of the Bankruptcy Code and the Bankruptcy Rules. Belk demonstrates the virtues of modern bankruptcy law and practice. Far from a cause for concern, Belk is a cause for celebration.

Suggested Citation

Rasmussen, Robert K. and Zur, Roye, The Beauty of Belk (September 5, 2023). American Bankruptcy Law Journal (2023), USC CLASS Research Paper No. 24-6, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4562564 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4562564

Robert K. Rasmussen (Contact Author)

University of Southern California Gould School of Law ( email )

699 Exposition Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0071
United States
213-740-6473 (Phone)
213-740-5502 (Fax)

Roye Zur

Independent

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