91 Colum. L. Rev. 846 (1991)
Debt Tender Offer Techniques and the Problem of Coercion

handle is hein.journals/clr91 and id is 860 raw text is: NOTES
DEBT TENDER OFFER TECHNIQUES AND THE
PROBLEM OF COERCION
INTRODUCTION
Recently, as part of the deleveraging of corporate America,1 cor-
porate issuers have turned to debt tender offers as a way to eliminate
the highly leveraged, risky capital structures created during the 1980s.
Most of the issuers that recently have launched tender offers for their
own debt had been, only a few years before, the subjects of highly
leveraged acquisitions or leveraged buyouts (LBOs), or had insti-
tuted extensive restructuring plans. While the precarious financial po-
sitions now facing these corporations cannot always be traced directly
to the leveraging of the eighties, it is fair to postulate that many of the
managers were overly optimistic with respect both to their companies'
abilities to perform and to the future economic environment of this
country. Managers left little room for error, and unforeseen events,
including a weaker economy, labor disputes, and the like, have pushed
many of these companies to the verge of bankruptcy. In an effort to
avoid this fate,2 corporations are seeking to retire their most expensive
debt issues-their junk bonds.
A number of commentators and practitioners have assailed as un-
fairly coercive various techniques that issuers have used in their efforts
to retire highly leveraged debt,4 and have presented powerful legal ar-
guments against these techniques. Part I of this Note describes some of
these so-called coercive techniques and why they are disfavored by
some. It also reviews the case law, all of which has upheld the legality
of these techniques. Part II focuses on the three most plausible legal
arguments raised to attack coercive techniques and concludes that,
with one possible exception, these arguments are inadequate and sup-
ported by questionable empirical and policy assumptions. Part III ana-
l. Coffee, Coercive Debt Tender Offers, N.Y.Lj., July 19, 1990, at 5, col. 1.
2. While it is possible that these offers are launched for purposes less worthy than
avoiding bankruptcy, this Note will argue that, in general, warnings in the prospectuses
of imminent financial disaster are credible, and that the corporations honestly are seek-
ing to avoid such disaster. See infra notes 253-256, 260-268 and accompanying text.
This argument is supported by the fact that the securities laws prohibit the use of manip-
ulative and deceptive devices. See, e.g., Securities Exchange Act of 1934, 15 U.S.C.
§ 578(b) (1988). In addition, the Note will assume no malfeasance on the part of man-
agement in connection with the original LBO or restructuring.
3. Although there are technical differences, the terms bond, debt, and deben-
ture will be used interchangeably here, since none of these differences bears on the
subject of the Note.
4. See, e.g., Coffee, supra note 1, at 5, col. 1; Stein, Insult to Injury: Junk Holders
Get Offers They Should, but Can't Refuse, Barron's, May 28, 1990, at 42, col. 1.
846

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