Ultra Petro Corp v. Ad Hoc Com, No. 21-20008 (5th Cir. 2022)Annotate this Case
Ultra Petroleum Corp. (HoldCo) and its affiliates, including its subsidiary Ultra Resources, Inc. (OpCo), entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy deep in the hole. But during the bankruptcy process, these debtors (collectively, Ultra) hit it big—as natural gas prices soared, they became supremely solvent. Ultra proposed a $2.5 billion bankruptcy plan. It provided that OpCo’s creditors would be paid—in full and in cash—their outstanding principal and all interest that had accrued before bankruptcy, plus interest on both at the Federal Judgment Rate for the duration of the bankruptcy proceeding. Two groups of creditors complain that the plan falls some $387 million short.
The issue on appeal is whether the Bankruptcy Code precludes the creditors’ claims for the Make-Whole Amount; second, even if it does, whether the traditional solvent-debtor exception applies; and third, whether post-judgment interest is to be calculated at the contractual or Federal Judgment rate.
The Fifth Circuit affirmed the bankruptcy court’s judgment. The court held the Bankruptcy Code disallows the Make-Whole Amount as the economic equivalent of unmatured interest. But because Congress has not clearly abrogated the solvent-debtor exception, the court held that it applies to this case. And the solvent-debtor exception demands that Ultra pay what it promised now that it is financially capable. The court further held, given Ultra’s solvency, post-petition interest is to be calculated according to the agreed-upon contractual rate.