CIT Files Bankruptcy; U.S. Unlikely to Recoup Money (Update3)
By Tiffany Kary, Dawn McCarty and Lester Pimentel
CIT listed $71 billion in assets and $64.9 billion in debt in a Chapter 11 filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan. The U.S. Treasury Department said the government probably won't recover much, if any, of the $2.3 billion in taxpayer money that went to CIT.
The bankruptcy "will allow CIT to continue to provide funding to our small business and middle-market customers," said Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Peek in a statement.
CIT, which filed the fifth-largest bankruptcy by assets, said it plans to exit quickly due to support from bondholders, who voted in favor of a so-called prepackaged plan. None of CIT's operating subsidiaries, including Utah-based CIT Bank, were included in the filing, and operations will proceed as normal, CIT said in a statement.
CIT has $1 billion from investor Carl Icahn to fund operations while it reorganizes. The credit line, to be drawn on until Dec. 31, will be a so-called debtor-in-possession loan. It also expanded its $3 billion credit facility by another $4.5 billion on Oct. 28.
Debt Holders Say No
The company had asked bondholders to exchange $30 billion in debt for new securities and equity. Icahn made a competing offer. After CIT's offer expired at midnight on Oct. 29, the company said it was tallying 150,000 ballots.
Debt holders rejected the exchange offer, with 90 percent of holders who voted opting for the company's prepackaged bankruptcy plan.
The failure of CIT's bank-holding company is the biggest measured by assets since regulators seized Washington Mutual banking unit in September 2008. Washington Mutual and IndyMac Bancorp Inc. are other banks with unmanageable debt that sought court protection to wind down their holding companies. Both put their retail banking units in the hands of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. CIT became a bank-holding company in December to qualify for a Treasury bailout.
"Disruptions in the credit markets coupled with the global economic deterioration that began in 2007, and downgrades in the company's credit ratings" hindered CIT's ability to obtain financing, according to an Oct. 2 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Bank of America
According to the petition, CIT's largest unsecured claim holders were Bank of America Corp., as collateral agent for a $7.5 billion claim, and Bank of New York Mellon Corp., as a trustee for retail bonds with a claim of $3.2 billion. Canadian senior unsecured notes have a claim for $2.1 billion, and Citigroup Inc. also has a $2.1 billion claim as an administrative agent to bank debt due 2010.
CIT had said in its Oct. 2 outline of a prepackaged plan that it would give most noteholders new notes at 70 cents on the dollar plus new common stock, compared with the range of 70 cents to 90 cents and new preferred stock proposed in the exchange offer.
CIT also said it would try to emerge from bankruptcy two months from the date of its filing.
CIT, which reported $3 billion of losses in the past eight quarters, received $2.3 billion from the U.S. Treasury on Dec. 31 when it purchased preferred stock and warrants. The company wasn't given access to the FDIC's debt-guarantee program.
"We will be following developments very closely with an eye towards protecting taxpayers during the bankruptcy proceeding," Treasury spokesman Andrew Williams said today in an e-mailed statement. "But as the company's disclosure on the prepackaged bankruptcy makes clear, with debt holders receiving less than face value of their instruments, recovery to preferred and common equity holders will be minimal."
CIT said the debt exchange would have given it a quicker reorganization without the cost of defaulting on loans, unwinding derivatives or fees for bankruptcy lawyers.
Icahn, who said he's the largest bondholder with $2 billion of debt, had initially sought to block CIT's prepackaged plan, saying bondholders would get a better deal if the company went into a "free-fall bankruptcy." He offered to buy bonds for 60 cents on the dollar.
The taxpayer gets shafted again.
Small business lending is also likely to be negatively effected as several large banks (B of A, Citigroup & B of NY Mellon) will take large write offs that will further reduce their capital, resulting in even greater zombification.
Combine this with the coming Commercial Real Estate crisis, and lending should become slushy or even freeze up completely within the next 6 to 12 months.