Banking & Finance Law Report

Tag Archives: secured lending

Location is Not Everything When Perfecting a Security Interest

Most of us are familiar with that old saw “location, location, location”. While location might enhance the value of real estate, including the location as part of the collateral description in the UCC financing statement can limit the protections provided to a secured creditor and may provide a strategy for attack by a bankruptcy trustee.  First Niagara Bank learned this valuable lesson but only after spending substantial legal fees to protect a security interest where perfection should have been routine.

In the case of Ring v. First Niagara Bank, NA (In Re: Sterling United, Inc.),____F.3d ____, 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 23009 (2d Cir. Dec. 22, 2016) (No. 15-4131-bk.), the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Trustee for Sterling United, Inc., (“Debtor”) sued First Niagara Bank (“First Niagara”) asserting that First Niagara’s security interests in Debtor’s assets were avoidable under 11 U.S.C. § 547.  Under U.S.C. § 547(b)(4)(A), a trustee may avoid any “transfer of an interest of the debtor in property … made … on or within 90 days before the date of the filing of the petition” for bankruptcy, provided that those interests are not perfected security interests pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 547(c)(3).…

Proposed Limitations On The Use Of Cognovit Notes

The Ohio General Assembly is currently considering a bill that would greatly restrict creditors’ ability to ask debtors to sign cognovit notes. A cognovit note allows a creditor, upon a debtor’s default, to enter judgment against the debtor without the usual notice or hearing.

Current Ohio law, specifically Ohio Revised Code Section 2323.13, generally enforces cognovit notes, but Ohio courts will not enter judgment on a cognovit note unless the note contains specific disclaimer language clearly and conspicuously visible, warning the debtor that signing the cognovit note surrenders the debtor’s rights to notice and a court trial upon default.1  Additionally, cognovit notes are banned entirely in consumer transactions.2

Seriously Misleading UCC Searches

Determining whether a security interest is properly perfected by using a state’s online lien search may be leading you astray.

Perfecting a security interest in collateral establishes the priority of the secured party’s claim to such collateral, providing the perfected secured party with an interest in such collateral superior to the rights held by most subsequently perfected security creditors or judicial lien creditors.  For most types of collateral owned by an entity, a security interest may be perfected by filing a financing statement describing the security interest with the secretary of state’s office in the state where such entity is formed.  A financing statement is a form of public notice intended to inform others dealing with such borrower (referred to as a “debtor”) that the debtor has granted a security interest in its assets.

The Uniform Commercial Code (“UCC”) dictates that a financing statement covering property owned by an entity debtor (as opposed to an individual) must identify the debtor by its exact legal name.  Nonetheless, to alleviate the otherwise disastrous consequences of harmless errors or omissions in a financing statement, the law provides that financing statements are effective (even with errors) so long as they are not “seriously misleading.”…

Amendment to Agricultural Lien Law Reinforces Decision in Ohio Dept. of Agriculture v. Central Erie Supply & Elevator Association

A recent change to Ohio’s agricultural lien law clarifies the interplay between security interests governed by Article 9 of the UCC and those governed by Ohio’s agricultural lien statutes, and confirms the ruling of the Sixth Appellate Court of Erie County in Ohio Dept. of Agriculture v. Central Erie Supply & Elevator Association, 2013-Ohio-3061.

Central Erie Supply & Elevator Association (Central Erie) operated a grain elevator that it used to receive grain and other commodities from farmers (known as “claimants” under the statutory scheme) and sell the commodities to third parties. This made Central Erie an “agricultural commodity handler” under Ohio Revised Code Chapter 926. Pursuant to ORC § 926.021(C), the claimants who provided commodities to Central Erie retained a statutory lien on the commodities until they were paid.…

Lending Issues to Consider With Respect to The Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act of 1930

Secured lenders extending financial accommodations to borrowers whose collateral includes perishable food items should consider certain specific risks associated with such collateral. Notably, the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act of 1930 (PACA) creates a statutory trust for the benefit of persons who originally sell the perishable agricultural commodities to such borrowers and are not paid. The PACA trust creates a tier of claims that “float above” the secured lenders’ priority interests in the perishable agricultural commodities. Thus, until all suppliers of perishable agricultural commodities to a borrower are paid in full, a secured lender’s security interests in the borrower’s collateral consisting of perishable agricultural commodities or the proceeds thereof are trumped by the sellers’ PACA claims. Types of borrowers whose collateral may be subject to these PACA statutory trusts include restaurants, grocery stores, or any other businesses that deal with perishable agricultural products.

The burden is on the borrower/PACA debtor (as opposed to the beneficiary of the PACA trust) to establish that the subject assets (including inventory and accounts receivable) are not PACA trust assets. See Sanzone-Palmisano C. V. M. Seaman Enterprises, 986 F.2d 1010 (6th Cir. 1993) (finding that the PACA debtor had the burden of proving the assets …

Health Care Facility Financing-CHOW Requirements Impact Deal Timing

Banks and other financial institutions need to understand how federal and state laws may impact closing a lending transaction in connection with a change of ownership ("CHOW") of a health care facility ("HCF"). Various laws implicated in a CHOW frequently include federal Medicare laws and state licensing, certificate of need, and Medicaid laws.

Under Medicare regulations, a CHOW is defined as any of the following: (a) in a partnership, the removal, addition or substitution of a partner, unless the partners expressly agree otherwise as permitted by state law; (b) in a sole proprietorship, the transfer of title to property to another party; (c) in a corporation, the merger of the corporation into another corporation, or the consolidation of two or more corporations, either of which results in the creation of a new corporation; or (d) a lease of all or part of the HCF. Commonly encountered CHOW transactions include asset sale and purchase transactions and lease transactions where the purchaser/lessee agrees to accept assignment of the current operator’s Medicare provider agreement and number. (Note: It is possible for Medicare and Medicaid purposes for a purchaser/lessee to enroll as a new provider and not accept assignment of the Medicare and Medicaid provider agreements. However, that process …

FINANCING A HEALTH CARE ENTITY PURCHASE USING DUE DILIGENCE TO SPOT RISK

When financial institutions fail to conduct the right kind of due diligence prior to financing the purchase of a health care entity, bad things can happen. Too often, banks focus their due diligence too narrowly, missing red flags that may result in over-estimation of value.

Here are some key points to think about when planning and doing due diligence.

Know the Business

Health care entities are special creatures in the market. They are highly regulated delivery systems, dependent on government, private and/or third party payers. They expose lenders to layers of risk that can go undetected when due diligence is conducted superficially. Due diligence of a health care entity should dig into a company to find out how it works, where its strengths lie, and what weaknesses it has. Inquire about and understand the nature of the health care services delivered. Ask that the services be specifically described. Identify the local labor pool available and quantify labor resources and costs – key elements for a health care provider.  Understand the payer mix to determine how the business is reimbursed, what the reimbursement and payment sources are, and how reliant the business is upon each source.  Understand the market economy and the up or downward trends that are …

Secured Lenders Have a Right to Credit Bid in Bankruptcy — At Least in the Seventh Circuit

Breaking with the Third Circuit and the Fifth Circuit, on June 28, 2011, the Seventh Circuit held that a debtor’s plan of reorganization that provides for the sale of the debtor’s assets free and clear of an existing security interest may only be confirmed over the objection of its secured creditor if the plan’s sale procedure permits the secured creditor to credit bid its secured debt for the assets being sold. River Road Hotel Partners, LLC v. Amalgamated Bank, — F.3d –, Nos. 10-3597 & 10-3598 (7th Cir. June 28, 2011).

The circuit split centers on the Bankruptcy Code’s provisions that only permit the confirmation of a plan of reorganization over the objection of a creditor class (a so called "cram down") where the plan’s treatment of such class is "fair and equitable." When the objecting class consists of secured creditors, the Bankruptcy Code requires that such fair and equitable treatment include provisions whereby either: (A) the secured creditor retains its liens in its collateral whether such collateral is retained by the debtor or transferred to another party and the secured creditor receives a specified level of cash payments under the plan, 11 U.S.C. § 1129(b)(2)(A)(i); (B) the secured …

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