Reinstatement of Debt: A Bankruptcy Court's Strict Interpretation and Application of Change-In-Control Provisions to Protect Senior Secured Lenders

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In In re Young Broadcasting, Inc., et al., 430 B.R. 99 (Bankr. S.D.N.Y. 2010), a bankruptcy court strictly construed the change-in-control provisions of a pre-petition credit agreement and refused to confirm an unsecured creditors' committee's plan of reorganization, which had been premised on the reinstatement of the debtors' accelerated secured debt under Section 1124(2) of the Bankruptcy Code.

"Reinstatement" refers to a chapter 11 plan proponent's ability to reinstate the pre-default terms of an accelerated debt by curing all defaults. This cure is typically accomplished by paying off all late payments and other arrearages and bringing the loan current. The bankruptcy court in Young Broadcasting rejected the committee's attempt to reinstate the debtors' senior secured debt because the committee's plan resulted in a default under the change-in-control provisions of the pre-petition credit agreement. In so holding, the bankruptcy court rejected the committee's arguments that certain provisions of the plan which "formalistically" complied with the change-in-control provisions were sufficient to avoid a default, finding the plan provisions to violate the plain terms and clearly expressed purpose of the change-in-control provisions.

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