Insolvency proceedings

This article first appeared in Without Prejudice in August 2017

What can the UK and South Africa learn from each other by comparing the business rescue regime with administration?

South Africa’s relatively recent business rescue regime (introduced in 2011) has exploded into a popular process for “affected persons” facing a company in financial distress. It shares some aspects with the administration procedure in England and Wales (UK). Lessons can be drawn from both the similarities and the differences between the two procedures that may benefit restructuring and insolvency practitioners both in the UK and South Africa.  Continue reading.

Hogan Lovells business restructuring and insolvency practice partners Ron Silverman, Robin Keller, and Shaun Langhorne recently joined Debtwire senior legal content specialist Richard Goldman to discuss some “game-changing” revisions to Singapore’s insolvency regime. During the discussion, the panel addresses how Singapore, in an effort to market itself as an international forum for debt restructurings, transformed its restructuring laws from a creditor-based tool premised on English insolvency statutes into a debtor-friendly system more akin to Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. The panel also breaks down some key concepts that, while common to U.S. restructurings, were completely foreign to Singapore insolvency proceedings, including automatic moratoriums against creditor self-help, postpetition DIP or rescue financing, cramdown availability, and enhanced disclosure requirements. Finally, the panel provides notable considerations that practitioners and investors should take into account when navigating this yet-to-be tested regime.

Click here to listen to the podcast.

Despite a modest uptick in recent years, it is still a relatively rare occasion for the Supreme Court of the United States to tackle issues involving bankruptcy. This term, however, the Supreme Court has granted certiorari in two bankruptcy appeals that could have important consequences for the financial community. In FTI Consulting, Inc. v. Merit Management Group, LP, the Court will define the parameters of the safe harbor of Bankruptcy Code section 546(e), which excludes certain financial transactions from the debtor’s avoidance powers. In PEM Entities LLC v. Levin, the Court will also determine whether federal or state law should apply when analyzing whether debt should be recharacterized as equity. Both cases could alter how financial transactions are structured and documented.

Continue Reading Dabbling in distress: U.S. Supreme Court to hear two important bankruptcy issues next term

In the recent case of Hamersley Iron Pty Ltd v Forge Group Power Pty Ltd (in liquidation) (receivers and managers appointed)[1], the Western Australian Supreme Court has confirmed that the grant of a security interest under the Personal Property Securities Act 2009 (PPSA) by a company to a third party will likely render any rights of set-off enjoyed by the company’s contractual counterparties worthless where the company subsequently enters liquidation.

The PPSA is a relatively new legislative regime in Australia, and applies to a wide range of “in substance” security interests over most types of property other than land. The decision is significant, because it represents the first time an Australian Court has conducted a detailed analysis as to the interplay between security interests granted under the PPSA and statutory rights of set-off applicable in insolvency.

[1] [2017] WASC (2 June 2017)

Continue Reading The limitation of set-off rights in liquidation

Der Wert der Insolvenzmasse ist Berechnungsgrundlage sowohl für die Vergütung des Insolvenzverwalters als auch die Gerichtsgebühr im Insolvenzverfahren. Obwohl die Regelungen hierzu gleich lauten, legt sie das OLG München unterschiedlich aus. Die Folge im aktuellen Fall ist eine knapp sechsfach höhere Bemessungsgrundlage zugunsten der Gerichtskasse. Die Mehrheit der Oberlandesgerichte teilt diese Sichtweise nicht. Damit begründet die Rechtsprechung des OLG München einen deutlichen Standortnachteil für Betriebsfortführungen im Insolvenzverfahren im Bezirk des Oberlandesgerichts München. Diese Rechtsprechung kann weiter gedacht dazu führen, dass der Verwalter bei einem margenschwachen Geschäft den Betrieb einstellen muss, um nicht durch die Begründung hoher Gerichtskosten die Bezahlung der sonstigen Masseverbindlichkeiten zu gefährden.

Continue Reading Gerichtsgebühren im Insolvenzverfahren: Standortnachteil München?

In order to promote a “rescue culture”, the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 – better known as TUPE –  says that where the transferring business is the subject of bankruptcy or insolvency proceedings instituted “with a view to the liquidation of the assets of the transferor”, the employees will not transfer and any dismissals connected with the transfer are not automatically unfair.

The wording of this insolvency exemption is contained in the European Acquired Rights Directive from which TUPE is derived. In Federatie Nederlandse Vakvereniging v Smallsteps BV the European Court was asked to decide if a pre-pack sale – designed to prepare the business transfer in advance so as to allow a swift re-launch once the insolvency had been declared – fell within this exemption.  The decision was published on 22 June, click here to read our note on the case.

The Singapore parliament recently passed a bill bringing in U.S. Chapter 11-inspired changes to its debt-restructuring framework, including provisions allowing (i) courts to approve financing with priority ahead of existing senior secured facilities; (ii) courts to approve a scheme even if there are dissenting creditor classes; and (iii) international assistance proceedings.

These provisions borrow heavily from the existing provisions in the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.

In light of these changes and the impact on future restructurings, we hosted a webinar on the current and coming use of U.S. Chapter 11 and Chapter 15 proceedings in Asian restructurings.

Some of the topics discussed included:

  • Why Asian debtors might look to a Chapter 11 solution over other procedures such as Schemes of Arrangements;
  • How the equivalent provisions in the U.S. Bankruptcy Code are applied and the key concepts parties will need to be familiar with; and
  • The likely need for U.S. counsel to provide expert testimony in Singapore proceedings regarding the application and interpretation of the new U.S.-based provisions.

Click here to view the webinar.

There has been considerable controversy about the extent of the powers, and the extent of obligations of a business rescue practitioner in relation to a cession of book debts by the company in rescue.  This is an important issue in business rescue because most financially distressed companies have an overdraft facility with a bank which is secured by a cession of debtors. Many practitioners want or need to use the overdraft facility as working capital.   Continue reading