‘Shadow Banking’ Leads to Plunge in Texas Business Bankruptcy Filings

By Mark Curriden Senior Writer at The Texas Lawbook DALLAS (Jan. 13) – Former American Airlines General Counsel Gary Kennedy told a private gathering last month of a hundred internal legal and corporate advisers for Energy Future Holdings that the utility should brace itself for the “almost unimaginable costs” of being in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. “Our legal bills in the bankruptcy case at American Airlines ran about $500,000 a day,” Kennedy said, causing audible gasps from the EFH folks. “It has become too expensive to go bankrupt today. I tell people to avoid bankruptcy if at all possible because it is not a good time.” Apparently, a growing number of Texas business leaders agree. Hundreds of companies facing significant financial distress are bypassing federal bankruptcy courts as a means of restructuring debt and reorganizing their business models and are turning to private sources of relief instead. The number of Texas businesses filing for bankruptcy declined 20 percent in 2014 and plummeted more than 56 percent during the past five years, according to new statistics compiled by Androvett Legal Media. Legal and financial experts say the factors include a booming economy, dirt-low interest rates, an unprecedented access to cash through the emergence of a shadow banking system and the ballooning cost of litigating a case in bankruptcy court. But those same insiders predict that the plunging price of oil and gas will likely lead to a significant increase in new business bankruptcy filings in the next six months. “No business wants to go into Chapter 11 if they can help it,” says Martin Sosland, a partner in the Dallas office of Weil, Gotshal & Manges, which is widely acclaimed as one of the best bankruptcy law