Thursday, August 20, 2020

Texas Sees Surge in Large Bankruptcy Filings

Texas lawyers have long bemoaned the tendency of large Texas-based companies to file bankruptcy in Delaware or New York. However, with the collapse in oil prices and the impact of Covid-19 on retail, many large companies are seeking to restructure in Texas. Since January, 36 groups of companies reporting at least $100 million in assets have filed Texas cases.

These cases generated a total of 802 individual case filings. Since the filing fee for a case is $1,717, the flood of filings has generated $1,377,034 in filing fees for the clerk’s offices.

To arrive at these numbers, I looked at all of the chapter 11 filings in Texas this year. On the petition, there is a place to list estimated assets in ranges of $100-$500 million, $500 million - $1 billion, $1-$10 billion, $10-$50 billion and $50 billion or more. In a few cases, where the petitions did not seem to reflect the assets, I looked further at schedules and first day declarations. In the case of GGI Holdings (Gold’s Gym), I knew that the company had sold for $100 million, so I gave it a bump up to that category. I also aggregated fourteen single asset real estate cases related to World Class Capital into a group of companies although they are not being jointly administered.

 Of the 36 groups of cases, 31 filed in the Southern District of Texas, including two $10 billion cases, four filed in the Northern District of Texas and one filed in the Western District of Texas. The Southern District of Texas cases were divided between just two judges, Judge Marvin Isgur and Judge David Jones, who make up that district’s complex case panel.

 Oil and gas extraction and support services made up 21 of the large groups of filings. There were also a number of well-known retailers filing in Texas, including Neiman Marcus, Stage Stores, JC Penney, Tuesday Morning and Tailored Brands (Men’s Warehouse and Joseph A. Bank). Other businesses likely affected by Covid-19 were fitness chain Gold’s Gym, California Pizza Kitchen and NPC International (franchisee for Wendy’s and Pizza Hut).

Of these cases, eleven met my minimum cutoff of $100 million. Another five cases reported assets of at least half a billion dollars. Eighteen cases hit the billion-dollar mark. Two cases broke $10 billion. That means that Texas had twenty billion dollar filings, an incredible showing for less than a year’s time.

Out of the 36 groups of companies, three were headquartered outside of the United States, eleven were based in other states, and twenty-two were Texas based (even if they filed in a different Texas district than their home office).

Ironically, large number of financially troubled companies filing in Houston could be a boost for that city’s economy. Bloomberg Business Week has estimated that having a major case filed in a city generates $4.5 million worth of economic activity, such as amounts spent on hotels, restaurants and cabs. The thirty-one large filings in Houston and Corpus Christi could be worth at least $139,500,000 in economic activity, not including fees earned by Texas professionals. (While many of the lead law firms were from out of state, nearly every case had a Texas local counsel. 

If you would like a chart showing the filings, please feel free to email me at


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