An Illustrated Guide to Corporate Failure

Traders and lawyers know when a company is about to go under. So should you.

Illustration: Cath Kastner

“Bankruptcy” is a dirty word in boardrooms, on trading floors and in ­employee break rooms. There’s good reason: Insolvency tarnishes reputations, wipes out stockholders and kills jobs. Thankfully, corporate failures are rarely surprising to those who know what to look for. Close observers fully expected the recent bankruptcies of coworking giant WeWork Inc. and pharmacy chain Rite Aid Corp. Almost 200 companies with debts of at least $50 million declared bankruptcy this year—the most since the global financial crisis, except for 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic. The wave shows no signs of ebbing as high interest rates weigh down corporate balance sheets. So how do you know if a company is about to go under? Read on.

Stock, bond and loan prices are the quickest way to spot a troubled company. When brokers offer floating-rate loans for less than 80¢ on the dollar, there’s little doubt the borrower is struggling. That price means lenders don’t expect the debt to be repaid in full. Almost a year before Rite Aid

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Revlon executives to get up to $36M in bankruptcy bonuses

“In fact, the metrics imposed are indeed tall orders and serious challenges,” Jones said. “They will require the senior executive team to not only work hard, which I have no doubt they’re doing, but also work extremely effectively, probably creatively, and in ways I don’t even know.”

Bankruptcy bonuses are commonly ladled out by ailing companies to top management shortly before or soon after filing for Chapter 11 protection. In 2005 Congress amended the bankruptcy code and aimed to rein in “retention bonuses” doled out to executives simply for staying on the job. Companies responded by labeling payouts as “incentive bonuses” and tied them to financial goals that could benefit the reorganization.

But critics say the goals are typically easy to meet and amount to backdoor executive payout schemes at companies scrambling for every dollar.

Nonetheless, judges typically approve bankruptcy bonuses because they feel doing so will maximize value going forward, even if the bonus recipients are the same people who led the company into Chapter 11.

“It is a tricky thing to explain how and why you need your senior management team to stick around,” acknowledged Jones, who drew comfort from the fact all of Revlon’s creditors support its

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17 property insurance companies face ratings downgrade in Florida

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — More than a dozen property insurance companies are set to have their ratings downgraded in Florida.

The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation confirmed to 8 On Your Side Thursday that 17 insurance companies total are going to be downgraded by the rating agency Demotech. Industry experts say that downgrade will impact hundreds of thousands of families across Florida – including in the Tampa Bay area.

Mortgage providers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac require homeowners to have a policy with an A-rated company. Anyone who has a policy with any of the 17 companies that will be losing its A-rating could be forced to find a new policy – potentially one that could cost more and provide less coverage.

8 On Your Side is working to find out which companies are having their ratings downgraded.

Meanwhile, Demotech’s decision to downgrade the companies is being challenged by the FOIR. Commissioner David Altmaier is requesting the rating agency reconsider the conclusions they’ve reached about the viability of the companies.

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office sent the following statement after the announcement was made:

“We share the concerns expressed by Florida’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis and the Office

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