Thursday, June 7, 2012

What is a Loan Workout?

If you’re a small business owner there’s a strong possibility that in order to open your business you obtained a loan from a lender. In the event that your business falls on hard times before the loan is repaid, you may find yourself in a precarious position. Either the loan has to be paid back or the lender may foreclose on the property, putting you out of business for good. So what are your options? In the past, you didn’t really have any. If you didn’t repay the loan, you didn’t run a business any longer. However, recently lenders have become more lenient toward small business owners by offering them a chance to restructure the loan. This is what’s called a “loan workout”. Essentially the lender and the business owner sit down and rework the terms of the loan. Perhaps a smaller interest rate would help you pay it back, or extending the length of time to repay the loan to provide you with more time and smaller monthly payments.
Pre-Negotiation Preparation
Any successful workout begins with a pre-negotiation preparation where you identify the problems within your business and develop solutions based on what caused the financial problems. This should be done prior to approaching the lender so they can see that you have thoroughly analyzed the financial situation and understand the underlying issues at hand.
Workout Negotiations
You should be prepared to respond to whatever loan revisions the lender may suggest. Borrowers are usually in a vulnerable position during workouts and lenders may try to take advantage of that. In a loan workout, almost everything is negotiable: loan length, interest rates, payment schedules and technical loan covenants; therefore, each case is unique and could have a very different outcome.
Legal Assistance
The finance and banking industry is complicated and as banks continue to merge and grow, this complexity only gets bigger. This is why it’s essential to have a corporate law firm represent you and your business. Plus, it’s important that the loan workout be agreed upon by both the lender and the borrower. A corporate law firm is able, legally, to arbitrate such a deal so everyone gets what they want out of the workout.
Loan agreements are legally binding documents and anytime you’re dealing with something legal, it helps to have the backing of a corporate law firm. By doing so you can ensure that you’re not compromising your rights or agreeing to something you missed because it was “in the fine print”. It’s essential for you to protect yourself through corporate law firm representation.
It’s in the best interest of the lender to be repaid and they can’t do that in the face of foreclosure. It’s in your best interest to stay afloat financially until your business rebounds and returns to the black. A loan workout may be the best option for all parties considered. The first step is learning if your lender is open to it at all. If so, then the next step is to hire the experts of a corporate law firm to help protect you from any predatory dealings or aspects of a restructure that would hurt your business further. No one knows the law better than lawyers and you want them on your side.
This article was written by Roger Brent Hatcher, a corporate finance lawyer at Smith, Gilliam, Williams & Miles, a leading Atlanta Law Firm since 1928.

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