Kamis, 19 Januari 2012
Big Boys of BK
Lots of Chapter 11 news today.
Kodak finally filed last night. It had been in trouble for a long time (I think I'm one of the few fossils remaining who uses film.), but it was trying to reshape itself as a printer company. To do so, it was relying on a revenue stream from its patent portfolio (At one time that portfolio rivaled the likes of Bell Labs and IBM.). Unfortunately, Kodak didn't account for aggressive (i.e. predatory) behavior by some major license users, including Apple and Research in Motion (I have to say I don't use much of anything from Apple. I hate black boxes, so I didn't care much for the products, and I didn't care for the culture, either. Seemed too much like a religious cult. I see people walking around festooned with 500 i-Crap products, and I wonder why anyone needs to be so simultaneously plugged-in and cocooned from the world. They remind me of Neo in The Matrix before he's released from his pod. RIM, though, hurts. I've rocked the Crackberry for over a half-dozen years now.). The big users decided to stop paying for the licenses, forcing Kodak to litigate. They wouldn't buy the patents outright, either, at least not for more than a dime on the dollar. So Kodak is in Chapter 11, where it might be able to force a few things.
American Airlines, on the other hand, might be getting forced. It's nearly two months since it filed, and American has barely gotten off square one. As I blogged the day it filed, American's big motivation was to take down the labor contracts and pensions. It hasn't, and everyone (including Your Truly) is confused about the delay. Confused about it, but still willing to take advantage of it. Delta and US Airways are making noises about rival bids, and others are getting into the game. If American doesn't have a reorganization plan in front of creditors in two months, it's looking at getting parted out.
And of course we can't let the day go by without some more mess from MF Global, this time with a heapin' helpin' of JPMorgan Chase. It seems that back in October, right before it filed, MF Global was selling piles of assets to raise cash. Problem was, it was selling them through JPMorgan, which decided to do a by-the-book slowdown of the transactions. Consequently, MF Global had neither the assets nor the cash and couldn't meet the inevitable margin calls. Welcome to bankruptcy. Now the creditors and trustee are finally getting around to asking JPMorgan where the money went, because it certainly hasn't been turned over.
JPMorgan's involvement in "where did it go" scenarios is getting to be a habit, and it's long past time someone pulled the curtain back and took a look. Somebody needs to look at where Washington Mutual's assets went, because they were there until JPMorgan stepped in. And unless something drastic has happened this week, JPMorgan is still sitting on piles of cash involved in investment schemes from five and six years ago (I have to be careful here. I've had two, executive-VP-level in-house counsel lie to me about the creation and handling of those accounts, so it's hard to say what the "official" records look like any more. And I've had outside counsel threaten me with bar discipline for daring to represent anyone opposing JPMorgan. But then that's SOP for Utah. The Bar doesn't care if an attorney makes a groundless threat like that so long as he is representing a 1% client and he makes it against an attorney with a 99% client.). Any wonder I refer to the place as "JPMorgoth"? We'll see if anybody decides to use the big microscope this time or if JPMorgan skates again.