A judge has ruled that the involuntary bankruptcy of FMB Bancshares in Lakeland, Ga., may proceed, a decision that could embolden more trust-preferred creditors to pursue a similar strategy.

The ruling, issued Friday by Judge John Laney of the bankruptcy court for the Middle District of Georgia, is the first to address the question of whether a trust-preferred creditor has the right to force an unwilling holding company into bankruptcy. FMB is the second lender whose creditors have sought involuntary bankruptcy, and the first to try to fight the process.

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