Bankrupt financial company Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc proposed a new plan for divvying up billions of dollars among its creditors and offered a bigger payment to bondholders, provided they sign on.
The plan filed late Tuesday, key to Lehman's exit from the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history, comes after an earlier version filed in April met strong opposition from hedge fund Paulson & Co, the California Public Employees Retirement System (Calpers) and other bondholders.
The plan proposed increasing payments to the holding company's senior unsecured creditors, which includes the bondholders, to 21.4% of their claims from 14.7%, but there's a catch: they must vote to accept the plan.
In addition, those holding derivative and general unsecured claims against the holding company must also vote to accept the plan, a move that appears aimed at avoiding a lengthy court battle.
If one of those three creditor groups rejects the plan, they all receive lower proposed payments of between 15% and 17%.
A spokeswoman and an attorney for Lehman Brothers did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
The ad-hoc group of bondholders, which says it has about $20 billion of claims, had objected to Lehman's previous plan saying that it favored large banks who were creditors of the derivatives business over other creditors.
Lehman submitted its revised plan in a filing to a U.S. bankruptcy court in New York. Creditors need to vote in favor of the plan before it goes to Judge James Peck for approval some time later this year. Lehman will be able to begin paying them back after receiving that approval.
Lehman Brothers rejected an approach used by the ad-hoc bondholder group in its own blueprint for Lehman to pay back creditors. The ad-hoc group argued that Lehman should combine all of its assets from across its corporate family and then pay out claims, which they argue would distribute assets more equally and boost payouts to bondholders.
Lehman Brothers said in its new plan that each of the 23 corporate entities would pay its own claims with its own assets.
"The debtors do not support the ad-hoc plan. The ad-hoc plan, if pursued would engender significant opposition and litigation, and would result in increased expenses and delay in the debtors' Chapter 11 cases," Lehman Brothers said in its court filing.
Lehman filed for Chapter 11 protection on September 15, 2008 with $639 billion of assets, six times as much as any other U.S. company to go bankrupt.
It sold its prime investment banking platform within days of the filing to Barclays Plc, and has since sold other assets or prepared them for sale to raise money for repaying creditors.
Earlier this month, Lehman Chief Executive Bryan Marsal estimated that Lehman would pay out about $60 billion on its $322 billion in allowed claims, or about 18.6 cents on the dollar, though some creditors will get more and others less.
That is a higher rate than an estimate the company gave last year to pay back on average 15.8 cents on the dollar.
More than $1 trillion in claims were filed against Lehman after its collapse, but many were dismissed because of errors and duplications.
The competing plan filed by bondholders in December would have increased their own payouts to 24.5 cents on the dollar, while derivatives creditors would receive 25.7 cents.
It was unclear in the new plan how much derivatives creditors stood to recover, in part because the company proposed a new classification of creditors.
The case is In re: Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York, No. 08-13555.