When a firm cannot operate profitably, the owners may seek to reorganize it. The first question to be answered is whether the firm might not be better off by ceasing to do business. If the decision is made that the firm is to survive, it must be put through the process of reorganization. Legal procedures are always costly, especially in the case of business failure; both the debtor and the creditors are frequently better off settling matters on an informal basis rather than through the courts. The informal procedures used in reorganization are (1) extension, which postpones the settlement of outstanding debt, and (2) composition, which reduces the amount owed.
If voluntary settlement through extension or composition is not possible, the matter must be taken to court. If the court decides on reorganization rather than liquidation, it appoints a trustee to control the firm and to prepare a formal plan of reorganization. The plan must meet standards of fairness and feasibility; the concept of fairness involves the appropriate distribution of proceeds to each claimant, while the test of feasibility relates to the ability of the new enterprise to carry the fixed charges resulting from the reorganization plan.
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