There are many questions raised when a company files for corporate bankruptcy. As an investor, people would like to what happens to the company, who would look into the interests of investors, and above all, if the old securities have any value left, or is the stock is turned into paste paper until the company is reorganized.
Companies that go out of business or try to recover from crippling debt are governed by federal bankruptcy laws. A bankrupt company, the "debtor," can use either Chapter 11 or chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code.
Under Chapter 11, the company is allowed to "reorganize" its business and attempt to develop into a profitable corporation. The company still functions on a day-to-day basis other than the fact that all important business decisions have to be agreed upon by a bankruptcy court.
Where as under Chapter 7, the company will stops all it operations and completely shut all its functions. The court assigns a trustee to "liquidate" (sell) the company's assets. The money so collect is then used to pay off the debt, which would take account both the debts to creditors and investors.
During a payment, the investors are paid first, due to their risk involvement. Bondholders have an advantage over stockholders since bonds stand for the debt of the company and the company has agreed to pay bondholders interest and to return their principal. Where as stockholders own the company, and therefore take on greater risk. On a good day, it is the stockholder who would make more money, but at the same time, as the company goes bankrupt, the stockholders bear to lose, as owners are last in line to be repaid if the company fails. Also remember that under Chapter 11, stockholders are still able to trade the stock, but under Chapter 7 the stock is worthless.
The other creditors are usually secured creditors that have low risk factors since the credit that they extend is usually backed by collateral. Collateral can be the mortgage or other assets of the company. They also stand to be paid first as the company files for corporate bankruptcy.
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