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What is a Springing Lockbox Arrangement?

Springing Lockbox Arrangement

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Springing Lockbox Arrangement

A “springing lockbox arrangement” is a term commonly used in finance, particularly in lending and structured finance scenarios. It refers to a mechanism where a borrower’s cash receipts (like revenues from sales) are initially directed into a lockbox account controlled by the borrower. However, upon the occurrence of certain predetermined events or “triggers” (often related to financial distress or covenant breaches), control of the lockbox “springs” to the lender or a trustee. This provides the lender with more immediate access to the borrower’s cash flow and serves as a protective measure to ensure repayment of the loan.

The “springing” action can be triggered by several events, such as:

  • The borrower’s failure to meet certain financial covenants or ratios.
  • Delays or defaults in debt service payments.
  • The deterioration of the borrower’s creditworthiness or credit rating.
  • Other specific events of default as outlined in the loan agreement.

Example of a Springing Lockbox Arrangement

Let’s delve into a detailed example to illustrate the springing lockbox arrangement.

Example: BlueTech Inc. and LendingBank

Scenario:

BlueTech Inc., a tech manufacturing company, needs a significant loan to expand its production capabilities. They approach LendingBank for financing. Given the size of the loan and the perceived risks, LendingBank proposes a springing lockbox arrangement as part of the loan terms.

Setup:

LendingBank sets up a lockbox account where all of BlueTech’s customer payments are directed. Under normal circumstances, BlueTech has daily control over this account and can access funds as they see fit.

However, the loan agreement contains several covenants, including:

  • BlueTech must maintain a minimum EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization).
  • BlueTech’s debt-to-equity ratio must not exceed a specified limit.

Trigger Event:

A few months into the loan term, an unexpected market downturn affects BlueTech’s sales. This results in a decline in their EBITDA, causing them to breach the first covenant in their loan agreement with LendingBank.

Springing Action:

Due to this breach, the springing lockbox arrangement is activated. Now, instead of BlueTech accessing its customer payments directly, LendingBank assumes control over the lockbox. Here’s what happens next:

  • Every day, LendingBank reviews the funds in the lockbox.
  • LendingBank deducts the scheduled loan payment amount (principal + interest) and any other associated fees.
  • After deducting what’s owed to them, LendingBank releases the remaining funds to BlueTech.

This arrangement ensures that LendingBank receives its due payments first before BlueTech can utilize its revenues. As a result, LendingBank’s risk is mitigated.

Resolution:

The loan agreement also specifies conditions under which BlueTech can regain control of the lockbox. This might include:

  • BlueTech achieving the minimum EBITDA for a certain consecutive number of months.
  • BlueTech remedying any other breached covenants.

After meeting these conditions, control of the lockbox “springs back” to BlueTech, and they regain daily access to their customer payments.

This example highlights how a springing lockbox arrangement can act as a protective mechanism for lenders while potentially limiting the borrower’s operational flexibility during periods of financial distress.

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