Banking & Finance Law Report

Archives: Commercial Lending

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What Goes Up…Quick Glance #2 at Ohio Oil and Gas Leases in Bankruptcy

As Ohio enjoys its latest boom in oil and gas exploration, it is important to understand how oil and gas leases are treated in bankruptcy.  The importance of these issues are underscored by the frequency with which the courts confront them; hence we visit again this unsettled area and consider further the question of the ownership of unextracted oil and gas in a bankruptcy context.

In the recent case of In re Cassetto, 475 B.R. 874 (Bankr. N.D. Ohio 2012), a bankruptcy court for the Northern District of Ohio examined whether a bankruptcy trustee charged with administering the assets of an individual chapter 7 debtor could enter into an oil and gas lease despite the debtor’s objections, and, if so, whether the debtor’s homestead exemption would apply to the signing bonus for such lease.

The lease the trustee sought to enter into had a five year term and would permit the extraction of oil and gas in exchange for a $3,900 per acre signing bonus and royalties of 17.5% of the value of any oil and gas produced from the property.  The trustee sought to enter into the lease, receive the signing bonus and thereafter abandon the lease to …

10th District Court of Appeals Upholds Subordination and Flow Down Provisions in Commercial Construction Documents

On March 29, 2013, the Court of Appeals for the 10th Appellate District in Columbus issued a decision of significance for mortgage lenders that rely on contractual subordination and flow down provisions in construction contracts. 

In KeyBank Natl. Assn. v. Southwest Greens of Ohio, L.L.C., 10th Dist. No. 11AP-920, 2013-Ohio-1243, the 10th District Court of Appeals upheld the September 14, 2011 decision by Judge John Bessey of the Franklin County, Ohio Common Pleas Court that the plaintiff lenders (the "Lenders") had priority over the subcontractors/ mechanic’s lien claimants even though the lenders recorded their mortgage subsequent to the notice of commencement’s recording.  The decision is significant because during this period fraught with contested foreclosures and inter-creditor disputes over priorities in real estate, the 10th District has affirmed Ohio’s broad construction and consistent enforcement of flow down provisions in construction documents.

In the spring of 2008, defendant Columbus Campus, LLC ("Campus") contracted with a general contractor to construct a continuing care retirement community on 88 acres in Hilliard, Ohio.  On March 10, 2008, Campus filed a notice of commencement; on April 16, 2008, the Lenders executed a $90 million construction loan agreement with Campus secured by …

Due Diligence in Lending to the Oil and Gas Industry

Although Ohio lenders that finance companies in the oil and gas industry will encounter some of the same due diligence issues found in other industries, the oil and gas business is a world of its own. We advise our lending clients to conduct diligence in the oil and gas industry in the same manner as if they were buying the company, perhaps just not to the same degree, because lenders typically have some collateral to help them recover a portion of their investments from oil and gas customers that stumble. Nevertheless, lenders need to understand the world of oil and gas if they wish to avoid mistakes and prosper.

First, lenders must understand that the shale oil and gas revolution has inspired a new generation of entrepreneurs, some of whom are making their first foray into the oil patch. This entry will be difficult for companies with little or no experience or existing relationships. Even well-established oil and gas companies may know very little about the laws, regulations, and geology of Ohio. To properly evaluate risk, the lender’s first task is to learn about its prospective borrower. Does the prospective borrower have experience in the industry, with this particular play, in this state, or with a …

Perfecting Security Interests in Assets of Ohio Gas and Pipeline Companies

With the recent boom in Ohio’s oil and gas industry, secured creditors in Ohio should be sensitive to special statutory requirements for perfecting security interests granted in assets of gas and pipeline companies.

Although security interests in personal property and fixtures are most frequently perfected by filing financing statements under the UCC, there are several types of security interests which require perfection through other channels.  In Ohio, pursuant to Section 1701.66 of the Revised Code, security interests in property of “public utilities” are among the interests that must be perfected by other means. “Public utility” is defined by the Ohio Revised Code Sections 4905.02 and 4905.03 to include, among others and with certain exceptions, (i) gas companies and natural gas companies, when engaged in the business of supplying artificial or natural gas, as applicable, for lighting, power, or heating purposes to consumers within Ohio and (ii) pipe-line companies, “when engaged in the business of transporting natural gas, oil or coal or its derivatives through pipes or tubing, either wholly or partly within [Ohio], but not when engaged in the business of the transport associated with gathering lines, raw natural gas liquids, or finished product natural gas liquids.” (Emphasis added).  Additional …

Ohio Passes Legislation Preventing Recovery on “Cherryland” Insolvency Carveouts in Nonrecourse Loans, Among Other Changes

Bankers and their counsel should note that during its December lame-duck session, the Ohio General Assembly passed the Ohio Legacy Trust Act (Am. Sub. H.B. 479), which will go into effect March 27, 2013.  The Act creates borrower-friendly provisions prohibiting the use of so-called “Cherryland” insolvency carve-outs in nonrecourse loan documents which will be of interest to all financial institutions engaged in commercial lending in Ohio.

“Cherryland” insolvency carve-outs are so named for the 2011 Michigan appellate case, Wells Fargo Bank, NA v. Cherryland Mall Limited Partnership, in which the court upheld a widely-used provision in non-recourse loan documents that caused the loan at issue to become fully recourse to the guarantor upon the insolvency of the borrower.

The Cherryland Mall decision prompted the Michigan legislature to pass the Nonrecourse Mortgage Loan Act, which became effective in Michigan in March of 2012. In order to legislatively overturn the Cherryland Mall decision, the Nonrecourse Mortgage Loan Act provides that a post-closing solvency covenant cannot be used as a nonrecourse carve-out or as the basis for any claim or action against a borrower or guarantor on a nonrecourse loan. It also provides that any provision purporting to create such a carveout is …

Health Care Lending: In re Altercare of Stow Rehabilitation Center

 

In mid-September, an Ohio appellate court rendered a decision in a long-pending dispute that raises an important issue for health care lenders: the impact of a contested certificate of need application. The impact of such a contest should be carefully considered by health care lenders.

On September 18, 2012, the Ohio Tenth District Court of Appeals rendered a decision in In re Altercare of Stow Rehabilitation Center (091812 OHCA10, 12AP-29). The parties to the appellate case were Schroer Properties of Stow, Inc. (“Schroer”) and Kent Care Center (“Kent”). At issue was Schroer’s decision to relocate 31 nursing home beds from 3 other Stark County, Ohio, nursing facilities and to a new facility, Altercare of Stow Rehabilitation Center (“Altercare Stow”), to be constructed in Stow, Summit County, Ohio.

Schroer submitted its Certificate of Need (“CON”) application in July, 2007, but the Ohio Department of Health (“ODH”) did not declare the application “complete” until February 28, 2011, nearly 4 years after Schroer’s initial submission.…

Post-Judgment Remedies

This article is Part Five in a seven-part series on how to structure sales and what to do when your customer fails to pay.  You can find previous articles in this series here: Structuring Sales to Ensure Payment; Signs of Trouble Before Payment Default; Default by a Customer; Knowledge is Power and What to Consider When Non-Payment Leads to Litigation.  Please subscribe to this blog by entering your email in the box on the left, or check back weekly for additional articles in the series.

You have obtained money judgment against your debtor, thus turning you into a "judgment creditor" and them into a "judgment debtor", and now it’s time to convert that important piece of paper called a "certificate of judgment" into cash or something that can be reduced to cash.  First, determine what assets are available to pay your judgment, then determine how to access them.

 

Analyze the Debtor’s Assets

 

There are a number of sources of information about your judgment debtor’s assets and financial situation, including the following:

 

   Examine financial statements that the judgment debtor provided during the course of your business relationship to identify available assets.

 

What to Consider When Non-Payment Leads to Litigation

This article is Part Four in a seven-part series on how to structure sales and what to do when your customer fails to pay. You can find previous articles in this series here: Structuring Sales to Ensure Payment; Signs of Trouble Before Payment Default and Default by a Customer: Knowledge is Power.  Please subscribe to this blog by entering your email in the box on the left, or check back weekly for additional articles in the series.

The previous article in this series, Default by a Customer: Knowledge is Power, outlined how to negotiate favorable terms with the customer to avoid default, proceed with litigation against the customer before there is a deluge, and prepare for a bankruptcy by the customer. This article will cover key considerations as you head toward litigation with a customer in default.

Determine Your Weaknesses

   Determine if you as vendor or service provider are subject to any counterclaims if you sue your customer for nonpayment. Might the customer assert that the goods sold or services provided were faulty, not in accordance with contract, or otherwise unacceptable? Your customer will have a difficult time proving its counterclaim if it has retained the goods you …

Signs of Trouble Before Payment Default

This article is Part Two in a seven-part series on how to structure sales and what to do when your customer fails to pay. You can find Part One of this series here: Structuring Sales to Ensure Payment. Please subscribe to this blog by entering your email in the box on the left, or check back weekly for additional articles in the series. 

With the recent economic slowdown in many sectors and the parade of corrupt corporate executives on the evening news, corporate managers are more sensitive than ever to signs of troubled business practices and how those practices affect outstanding receivables.  Many distressed businesses display early warning signs of impending trouble, including some or all of the following:

  • Lack of a sound business plan- The company may not have a plan or may have expanded past the vision of it original business plan.
  • Ineffective management style- The management of a small company that has experienced rapid growth may not be able to delegate authority effectively. 
  • Poor lender/vendor relationships- The company may not respond quickly or fully to its vendor’s request for financial information or may actively hide information from its vendors.
  • Change in market conditions- The market for the company’s product may

Structuring Sales to Ensure Payment

This article is Part One in a seven-part series on how to structure sales and what to do when your customer fails to pay you. Please subscribe to this blog by entering your email in the box on the left, or check back weekly for additional articles in the series. 

Know Your Customer

Before entering into a transaction, obtain the following information and documents that will 

help you determine if this is someone with whom you want to do business, and will help you set

the terms under which you want to do business.  It will also assist in the event collection of a

debt is necessary.

 

1. Financial statements, including an income statement, a cash flow statement and a balance

 sheet. 

2. Dun & Bradstreet- this is a subscriber service that rates businesses.  

3. Trade references – these are references from other businesses with which your potential

customer does business.

4. Bank references- find out where your potential customer banks.  

 

 …

Update – JNT Properties v. Keybank: Ambiguity in the Calculation of Interest

On November 30, 2011, the Supreme Court of Ohio accepted KeyBank’s appeal from the judgment in JNT Properties, LLC v. KeyBank, Nat’l Assoc., decided by the Eighth District Court of Appeals in Cuyahoga County, Ohio on June 30, 2011. As our July 2011 blog post, available here, explained, this case hinged on whether KeyBank’s use of the "365/360 method" of interest calculation, resulting in an effective interest rate of 9.05% per annum, breached a promissory note pursuant to which JNT Properties had agreed to repay principal together with interest at the rate of 8.93% per annum. The Eighth District Court found that the "365/360 method" used in the case "cannot be read as clearly evidencing an intent of the parties to alter the ordinary meaning of the term ‘per annum,’ or as creating an ‘annual interest rate’ other than the stated rate of 8.93 percent."   2011-Ohio-3260, at ¶ 21 (internal quotations omitted). Concluding that genuine issues of material fact remained, the Eighth District Court reversed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of KeyBank.

Since we last reported, KeyBank filed a Notice of Appeal of the case and Memorandum of Jurisdiction with the Supreme Court of …

JNT Properties v. Keybank: Ambiguity In The Calculation Of Interest

On June 30, 2011, the Eighth District Court of Appeals in Cuyahoga County, Ohio decided the case of JNT Properties, LLC v. KeyBank, Nat’l Assoc., which dealt with the calculation of interest on a commercial loan by what is known as the “365/360 method.” The court held that KeyBank’s interest calculation method for the loan was unintelligible because although a provision toward the top of the note contained a stated annual interest rate of a certain percentage, that provision was contradicted by another term in the note relating to calculation of interest.  Accordingly, lenders using the common “365/360 method” should ensure that their loan documents clearly and intelligibly describe the calculation of interest.

The case originated when JNT Properties filed a class action against KeyBank, alleging breach of contract based on KeyBank’s use of the “365/360 method” for the calculation of interest. The promissory note in question stated that the “Initial Interest Rate” was 8.93%, but then elsewhere in the document stated as follows:…

Motor Carrier Hidden Liens: What Secured Lenders Need to Know

Secured lenders must prepare to conduct more due diligence than ever before when lending to motor carriers. As a result of the March 3, 2011 Sixth Circuit decision In re: Arctic Express Inc., owner-operators (independent drivers) may have enforceable “hidden” liens on certain assets of motor carriers that would require restitution, not only from the motor carriers but from the motor carriers’ secured lenders as well.

Arctic Express Inc. (Arctic) and its affiliated leasing company D&A Associates Ltd. (D&A) were sued in a class action filed by the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association, Inc. (OOIDA). Each independent driver entered into two agreements with Arctic and D&A: an independent contractor agreement, and a lease agreement. Under these agreements, the independent drivers were entitled to compensation as a percentage of revenue generated from the associated transportation and were required to make equipment rental payments. Also, the agreements permitted Arctic to deduct a fee of nine cents per mile from the compensation paid to the independent drivers to be kept in a “maintenance escrow fund,” for purposes of repair and maintenance to the leased equipment. If the fund balance exceeded maintenance expenses, the net was to be paid to the independent driver …

Why You Should Care About FATCA

The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) [Sections 1471-1474 of the Internal Revenue Code] was enacted to prevent U.S. taxpayers from evading U.S. tax obligations by parking funds in foreign accounts or with foreign investors. FATCA requires each U.S. entity to withhold 30% of certain payments made after 2012 to foreign investors or foreign lenders unless such foreign entities satisfy certain new disclosure and reporting requirements. 

Failure to comply with FATCA will subject the U.S. entity to penalties and fines. Domestic lenders and domestic borrowers alike should ensure that foreign entities are FATCA compliant by adding language to the parties’ credit agreement that obligates each existing and future foreign entity to provide tax documents, certificates and other tax information upon demand. An example of such language follows:

Promptly upon receipt of written request, each Foreign Lender shall deliver to the Borrower and the Agent any information, document, or certificate, properly completed and in a manner prescribed by law or satisfactory to the Borrower or the Agent, as the case may be, in order to permit the Borrower or the Agent to make a payment under this Agreement or the Loan Documents without any withholding on account of any tax otherwise required to …

Is Your Term Sheet Binding?

That is the question addressed in Amcan Holdings, Inc. v. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, 894 N.Y.S.2d 47 (N.Y. App. Div. 1st Dep’t Feb. 4, 2010).

Amcan Holdings, Inc. (“Amcan”), certain of Amcan’s affiliates (together with Amcan, collectively, “Borrower”), and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (“Lender”) negotiated, executed and delivered a certain “Summary of Terms and Conditions” (the “Term Sheet”). The Term Sheet contained a variety of agreed upon terms and conditions, including the principal amounts of the revolving and term facilities, interest and amortization schedules, maturity dates, fees, the collateral to secure the debt, and a proposed closing date. 

After discovering that Borrower was subject to a preliminary injunction that prohibited Borrower from pledging to Lender certain equity interests, Lender lost interest in the proposed financing arrangement. Six years later, Borrower initiated a breach of contract action against Lender. Borrower’s position was that the Term Sheet was a binding commitment to lend.

The New York appellate court disagreed. The court stated that the fundamental issue to be determined in these cases is whether the parties intended to be bound by the agreed upon terms and conditions set forth in the preliminary agreement …

Mayer v. Medancic: Is Interest in Ohio as Simple (or Compound) as it Seems?

On December 3, 2009, the Supreme Court of Ohio decided the case of Mayer et al. v. Medancic et al., in an effort to clarify the calculation of interest on an obligation upon the occurrence of a default. As stated by the Court, “compound interest is not available upon a default on a written instrument absent agreement of the parties or another statutory provision expressly authorizing it.” Accordingly, lenders should ensure that their loan documents clearly state that interest will be compounded not only during the term of the loan, but also after default.

The case involved the calculation of default interest on three promissory notes executed and delivered by the Medancics to the Mayers. All principal and accrued interest on each note was due and payable at maturity and the Medancics failed to make those payments in each case. Although the maturity dates fell in 1995 and 1997, the Mayers did not receive judgment on the notes until May of 2006. The Mayers contended that they were entitled to post-judgment interest at the rates set forth in the notes, compounded annually, but the trial court held that the Mayers were entitled to post-judgment simple interest at the rates …

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