On October 30, a coalition of federal regulators issued the Policy Statement on Prudent Commercial Real Estate Loan Workouts. The Statement is designed to give greater flexibility to lenders in renegotiating or restructuring loans secured by commercial real estate, and should aid the flow of financing to credit-worthy borrowers. 

The first purpose of the Statement is to shield institutions from criticism for restructuring loans if an adequate review of the borrower’s financial condition has been performed. A review of the borrower’s condition is adequate if the management has:


            (1)        Put in place a workout policy establishing loan terms and amortization schedules and that allows for modification of terms in the event there is a default in repayment;


           (2)        An individual credit plan that analyzes current information on the borrower and guarantors and supports ultimate repayment, including (i) updated financial information; (ii) current valuations of the collateral; (iii) analysis and determination of loan structure; and (iv) appropriate legal documentation;


            (3)        A global analysis of the borrower’s debt service;


            (4)        The ability to monitor ongoing performance;


            (5)        An internal loan grading system that accurately reflects risk; and


            (6)        An Allowance for Loan & Lease Losses (ALLL) methodology that recognizes credit losses.


Second, the Statement provides that restructured loans will not be subject to an adverse credit classification solely due to a deterioration in the underlying collateral value, or because the borrower is associated with a particular industry that has been experiencing financial difficulty of late. 


As an example of these more favorable classification guidelines, the Statement offers a scenario where a lender refinances a $13.6 million balloon payment at maturation over the next 17 years. The borrower was paying timely up until the maturation date, but has experienced a decrease in cash flow and, per a recent appraisal, the LTV ratio is 104%. Under the Statement, the loan is properly classified as “pass” because the borrower has demonstrated the ability to make continuing payments even with the decline in collateral value and decreased cash flow.


This ability to avoid adverse credit classifications will prompt institutions to be more willing to engage in loan workouts where there is a realistic probability of repayment. Borrowers that have a sensible repayment plan going forward may also be more willing to approach lenders about restructuring as they will not be tied to other failures within their industry.