Editor: David Reiss
Brooklyn Law School

April 9, 2014

GSE Litigation Through Corporate Law Lens

By David Reiss

Adam Badawi and Anthony Casey have posted The Fannie and Freddie Bailouts Through the Corporate Lens to SSRN. The paper takes a look at the bailouts as if they were simple insolvent private firms. This is a helpful thought experiment even though the two federally chartered and heavily regulated firms are anything but simple, private firms. They write that while it is politically controversial to wipe out the shareholder equity in the two firms, doing so

is consistent with what often happens to stockholders of distressed companies. Indeed that is the more likely outcome when a corporation is sold or reorganized under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code. There remains little doubt that the Entities [Fannie and Freddie] were highly distressed at the time of the PSPAs [Preferred Stock Purchase Agreements] and Amendments [to the PSPAs]. Thus, while procedurally suspect, these actions did not substantively violate the norms of corporate law and finance that would apply to private companies in the same position. To the contrary, in the private context there may have been no action available that would have legally allocated any future interest in the Entities to the (junior) preferred and common shareholders. (1, footnotes omitted)

They add, that in “the private context, there would have been pressure to file for bankruptcy to liquidate the assets and eliminate the risk to creditors. And once in bankruptcy, the directors would have been entirely barred from taking actions to benefit equity at the expense of creditors.” (3) And they conclude that “the substance of Treasury’s and the Entities’ actions – in September 2008 and August 2012 – were generally in line with acceptable actions of creditors and debtors involved in restructuring distressed corporations in Chapter 11 bankruptcy or in out-of-court reorganizations.” (3-4)

I could excerpt selection after selection, but instead, I recommend that you read this interesting paper for yourself!

| Permalink