We've seen this before with the airlines, when a major financing partner steps up with a cash infusion and negotiates the terms for emerging from court protection.
Consider how hedge funds and airline-related investors gained 52% of US Airways (LCC) after financing its bankruptcy reorganization -- while bondholders and other unsecured credit providers received stock at a rate of 3 cents to 17 cents on the dollar.
At United Airlines, the U.S. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. ended up with a 23% stake in the parent company, UAL (UAUA), when it emerged from bankruptcy in 2006. Unsecured creditors got 4 cents to 8 cents on the dollar.
The only optimistic example is Delta Airlines (DAL), which repaid unsecured creditors between 62% and 78% of what they were owed when it emerged from bankruptcy in 2007.GM's bondholders can only dream of getting that lucky. Pennies on the dollar is the most likely scenario in a bankruptcy proceeding. That won't live up to the dreams of all the folk who bought GM's bonds to one day pay for college for their kids or add a cushion to their retirement accounts. Now it looks like the best they can hope for is to get the same 10% deal from the courts that they just rejected. They better hope Obama doesn't hold a grudge.
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