American Bankruptcy Institute Update

June 7, 2005

In This Issue


Legislation Update

Grassley to Seek Broad Pension Overhaul

Senate Finance Chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) said today the collapse of United Airlines' pension plan demonstrates the need to overhaul pension law, CongressDaily reported. Grassley started a series of congressional pension hearings in the aftermath of the government's Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. (PBGC) taking over bankrupt United's pension plan. With more pension plans possibly failing, Grassley and witnesses said the outlook is bleak for the PBGC. It had a $10 billion surplus in FY2000, but by last September its deficit was about $23 billion. "Across dozens of industries, there are hundreds of billions of dollars of pension promises unfunded," Grassley said. "The facts are alarming. The time to act is now.” Finance ranking member Max Baucus (D-Mont.) added that the pension system "is clearly broken" and the rules must be changed "not to help the PBGC but to help the employees." PBGC Executive Director Bradley Belt said his agency might have to provide benefits to Northwest, Delta, American and Continental airlines, but added, "I hope it doesn't come to pass." Top executives at Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines told lawmakers the companies could go bankrupt and terminate their pensions if Congress does not act immediately on pension legislation that would allow the airline industry to stretch out contributions to severely underfunded retirement plans.

Meanwhile, Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.) is planning to push a comprehensive pension bill through his committee by this summer that might include provisions aimed at multi-employer plans and cash-balance plans. During a hearing today at the HELP Retirement and Aging Subcommittee, lawmakers appeared interested in a plan for tackling multi-employer pensions developed by a large coalition of business and labor groups. That plan would call for an "early-warning" system to detect funding problems in multi-employer plans.

Consumer Credit Rose $1.3 Billion in April

Consumers accelerated their borrowing by a less-than-expected $1.3 billion in April, as credit card borrowing declined for the second month in a row, a Federal Reserve report showed today, Reuters reported. The Fed said total consumer credit outstanding climbed in April to a seasonally adjusted $2.131 trillion. The increase followed a revised $6.9 billion increase in borrowing in March, up from the previously reported climb of $5.5 billion. Market analysts polled by Reuters were expecting a $7.0 billion rise in consumer credit in April. Nonrevolving credit, reflecting closed-end loans for cars, boats, education expenses and vacations, gained by $1.7 billion after a $7.4 billion rise in March. Revolving credit, which includes credit and charge cards, fell by $426 million in April after a drop of $569 billion the previous month.

A Case Study Evolution: Crystal Restaurant Holdings; A Discussion In Restructuring, M&A and Refinancing Solutions

The 2005 ABI Investment Banking Program will offer a unique approach to understanding the role of investment bankers in insolvency and restructuring contexts, Sept. 8-9, at the Four Seasons Hotel in Las Vegas. A case study presentation will dramatize the various perspectives of parties-in-interest as they examine strategic alternatives and seek the highest value for a hypothetical insolvent company. Leaders in the industry will play the role of the different constituents as they work through the case study in this day-long program. Register for this unique program here.

Register for ABI’s Webinar on Business Bankruptcies under the New Bankruptcy Law

Register for ABI’s webinar series examining details of the new bankruptcy law. The first program on business bankruptcies will be held on June 15 and will feature topics such as new small business rules, expansion of reclamation claims, broadened preference defenses, trade creditor strategies, new grounds for the appointment of a trustee, single-asset cases and limits on exclusivity. Confirmed faculty are:

  • Andrew Caine of Pachulski, Stang, Ziehl, Young, Jones & Weintraub PC (Los Angeles)
  • Alec Ostrow of Stevens & Lee PC (New York)
  • Michael P. Richman of Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw LLP (New York)
  • George Singer of Lindquist & Vennum PLLP (Minneapolis)
  • Deborah Thorne of Barnes & Thornburg LLP (Chicago)

There are a total of three programs devoted to the details of business practice under the new law as well as three consumer programs. The final session will be a judges’ roundtable. View the full teleseminar schedule of the 90-minute programs or register online. All registrants receive a copy of the new red-lined Code.

The series is free to judges who are ABI members, and to clerks of ABI judge members.

“Best of ABI” Audioconference Features Judges on the New Law

ABI will present the third in a series of “Best of ABI” audioconferences, Judges’ Roundtable – The New Bankruptcy Law," on June 29, 2005, at 3:00 pm (ET). The panel of experienced bankruptcy judges from four different circuits will discuss the coming significant changes in business and consumer bankruptcy law.  The panel was the top-rated program, as selected by the record crowd at the Annual Spring Meeting in Washington, D.C. The program is 90 minutes. For more information or to register, click here.

Technology Committee e-Newsletter Available Online

The June issue of ABI’s Technology and Telecommunications Cases Committee e-newsletter is available online. Read articles on possible intrusions in attorney’s electronic communications and assurances for utility services under revised §366. The committee’s minutes from the Annual Spring Meeting are also available online.

Latest Job Postings at ABI Career Center

Check out the ABI Career Center. The Center is a one-stop site for job seekers and employers in the insolvency community. Career Center resources are available free to both employers and job seekers. New positions are featured daily. The latest listings include: