GABB Covid-19 Update: Loans, Lending and Liability
The second round of the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program funding, released Monday April 27, is being distributed by SBA lenders, and is expected to be depleted within just a few days, David Brindley, VP of Small Business Lending at Live Oak Bank, told the GABB in a Zoom meeting on April 28.
Brindley also said the new round of PPP funding is tied to the SBA’s 7(a) loan program, the SBA’s primary program for providing financial assistance to small businesses. The 7(a) program will also be depleted when the PPP runs out of funds, although he anticipated that Congress would approve additional funding in the near future, although “we don’t know when for sure.”
Hear what Brindley had to say at the meeting at this link.
Many other SBA lenders in the GABB told us that they were extremely busy working on PPP loan applications that had been submitted earlier. “For the last month, it has been all hands on deck as everyone in the bank jumped in to help process PPP loans,” Brindley said. Like many other banks, Brindley’s bank “took the approach that we would take care of existing customers first and then open up for new customers.”
His bank temporarily paused most other lending in March to focus on the relief lending through the CARES Act. When the 7A program resumes, Brindley says he expects the SBA to guarantee 90 percent of the loan, as opposed to the 75 percent they have covered in the past. Lenders are going to take a new approach to due diligence, he said. Live Oak looks favorably upon businesses with a strong cash flow and good management.
“We will also require projections from buyers,” Brindley said, to make sure they really understand the cash flow and working capital needs of the business. Also, as part of the CARES Act, the government will make the first 6 months of payments for new SBA loans that close before September 2th.
He ran down a list of potential questions for future SBA loan applicants, including whether the business closed during the quarantine, were customers and suppliers significantly impacted by the shutdown, what disaster funding did the business receive, and why does the buyer think it’s prudent to go forward with a business purchase in the midst of uncertainty.
“We’re going to do even more due diligence than we did before,” Brindley said. “We want to make sure there’s more working capital built into our projects.” Toward that end, his bank — the largest SBA lender in the country — will add additional working capital into loans so that businesses have adequate operating capital in reserve.
“We are open for business right now,” Brindley said. “for historically strong transactions and we are willing to use a common-sense approach to mitigate a Q2 Covid 19-related impact to the business. If we can see that a seller’s revenues are trending back to historic levels and there is sufficient working capital built into the deal structure, we will look at transactions today.”
Attorney and GABB Affiliate Lawrence Domenico, a partner in the law firm of Mozley, Finlayson & Loggins LLP, discussed potential liability as businesses prepare to reopen fully or partially. The Georgia Governor has issued specific guidelines for businesses to safely open, as has the CDC.
“I’ve never said ‘it’s not clear, or I don’t know” so many times in my practice of law as in the last couple of weeks.” Language within the gubernatorial order appears to exempt reopened businesses from liability, but it isn’t clear that will give businesses blanket immunity. If a business misses covering one of the safety items listed in the order, maybe you don’t get protection from liability. Traditional body of common law considers whether an entity acted reasonably, and there is varying advice on that front.
“Every business owner is going to have to decide for themselves what is reasonable,” said Domenico. “I think if you try to follow the CDC guidelines, try to follow the governor’s orders, you will have a pretty good defense, but I’m not going to be able to tell you you’re in the clear no matter what.”
The GABB plans to have weekly Zoom meetings on Tuesdays for updates on aid available during the COVID-19 crisis. Check our blog for information on joining future calls.