In response to the increasingly aggressive activism by holders of net short positions that are in debt by way of credit default swaps, the leveraged loan market has responded with the inclusion in a recent market-clearing transaction of a new provision that disenfranchises such holders, deeming them to have voted in the same proportion as lenders who are not net short lenders. (Exceptions were provided for regulated banks and revolver banks as of the closing date.)
In addition to vote sanitization, other measures that have been under consideration to thwart net short debt activists include (i) expansion of disqualified lenders lists to include those with a net short position; (ii) increasing the percentage of lenders who can declare a default under bond indentures; and (iii) adding a “sunset” provision that limits the time within which a default may be declared with respect to actions that have been disclosed to lenders. It remains to be seen if any or all of these measures (or others) clear the market.
A copy of the operative language is set forth below:
Notwithstanding anything to the contrary herein, in connection with any determination as to whether the requisite Lenders have (A) consented (or not consented) to any amendment or waiver of any provision of this Agreement or any other Loan Document or any departure by any Loan Party therefrom, (B) otherwise acted on any matter related to any Loan Document, or (C) directed or required the Administrative Agent or any Lender to undertake any action (or refrain from taking any action) with respect to or under any Loan Document, any Lender (alone or together with its Affiliates) (other than (x) any Lender that is a Regulated Bank and subject to supervision and examination by the FDIC, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency or the Board and (y) any Revolving Lender as of the Closing Date) that, as a result of its (or its Affiliates’) interest in any total return swap, total rate of return swap, credit default swap or other derivative contract (other than any such total return swap, total rate of return swap, credit default swap or other derivative contract entered into pursuant to bona fide market making activities), has a net short position with respect to the Loans and/or Commitments (each, a “Net Short Lender”) shall have no right to vote any of its Loans and Commitments and shall be deemed to have voted its interest as a Lender without discretion in the same proportion as the allocation of voting with respect to such matter by Lenders who are not Net Short Lenders. For purposes of determining whether a Lender (alone or together with its Affiliates) has a “net short position” on any date of determination: (i) derivative contracts with respect to the Loans and Commitments and such contracts that are the functional equivalent thereof shall be counted at the notional amount thereof in Dollars, (ii) notional amounts in other currencies shall be converted to the dollar equivalent thereof by such Lender in a commercially reasonable manner consistent with generally accepted financial practices and based on the prevailing conversion rate (determined on a mid-market basis) on the date of determination, (iii) derivative contracts in respect of an index that includes any of the Borrowers or other Loan Parties or any instrument issued or guaranteed by any of the Borrowers or other Loan Parties shall not be deemed to create a short position with respect to the Loans and/or Commitments, so long as (x) such index is not created, designed, administered or requested by such Lender or its Affiliates and (y) the Borrowers and other Loan Parties and any instrument issued or guaranteed by any of the Borrowers or other Loan Parties, collectively, shall represent less than 5% of the components of such index, (iv) derivative transactions that are documented using either the 2014 ISDA Credit Derivatives Definitions or the 2003 ISDA Credit Derivatives Definitions (collectively, the “ISDA CDS Definitions”) shall be deemed to create a short position with respect to the Loans and/or Commitments if such Lender or its Affiliates is a protection buyer or the equivalent thereof for such derivative transaction and (x) the Loans or the Commitments are a “Reference Obligation” under the terms of such derivative transaction (whether specified by name in the related documentation, included as a “Standard Reference Obligation” on the most recent list published by Markit, if “Standard Reference Obligation” is specified as applicable in the relevant documentation or in any other manner), (y) the Loans or the Commitments would be a “Deliverable Obligation” under the terms of such derivative transaction or (z) any of the Borrowers or other Loan Parties (or its successor) is designated as a “Reference Entity” under the terms of such derivative transactions, and (v) credit derivative transactions or other derivatives transactions not documented using the ISDA CDS Definitions shall be deemed to create a short position with respect to the Loans and/or Commitments if such transactions are functionally equivalent to a transaction that offers the Lender or its Affiliates protection in respect of the Loans or the Commitments, or as to the credit quality of any of the Borrowers or other Loan Parties other than, in each case, as part of an index so long as (x) such index is not created, designed, administered or requested by such Lender or its Affiliates and (y) the Borrowers and other Loan Parties and any instrument issued or guaranteed by any of the Borrowers or other Loan Parties, collectively, shall represent less than 5% of the components of such index. In connection with any such determination, each Lender shall promptly notify the Administrative Agent in writing that it is a Net Short Lender, or shall otherwise be deemed to have represented and warranted to the Borrowers and the Administrative Agent that it is not a Net Short Lender.