Insolvency proceedings

In a recent decision, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice recognised the English law schemes of arrangement of the Syncreon group under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act, RSC 1985, c C-36 (“CCAA“). This was the first time a Canadian court was asked to determine whether proceedings under Part 26 of the Companies Act 2006 (the “Companies Act“) could be recognised as “foreign proceedings” under Part IV of the CCAA. The schemes, which included third party releases in favour of the Canadian operating entity of the Syncreon group, were given full force and effect in Canada.  
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The Hong Kong Court of Appeal has suggested that a previous Court decision may have overstepped the mark by suggesting that an arbitration clause in a client agreement should generally take precedence over a creditor’s right to present a winding-up petition.

In But Ka Chon v Interactive Brokers LLC [2019] HKCA 873 (an otherwise fairly routine financial product misrepresentation case), Vice President of the Court of Appeal Madam Justice Kwan made obiter comments implying that the test previously set out by Harris J last year in Lasmos Limited v Southwest Pacific Bauxite (HK) Limited [2018] HKCFI 426, which followed recent English authority, appeared to be at odds with classical Hong Kong and Commonwealth authority whereby a winding-up petition may only be dismissed by establishing a bona fide defence on substantial grounds to the claim for the underlying debt.
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On 19 September 2019, Norris J handed down judgment in the challenge brought by six landlords against the Debenhams Retail Limited (Debenhams) company voluntary arrangement (CVA) which was approved by 94.71% of Debenham’s unsecured creditors on 9 May 2019. The challenge been watched with significant interest, particularly by the landlord community, which has for some time expressed increasing concerns regarding the use of CVAs as a mechanism to commute leasehold liabilities while other unsecured creditors’ rights remain unaffected. While CVAs have been the subject of legal challenges previously, the Debenhams challenge is the first time certain key elements of CVAs in play in the market have been tested before the court.  Norris J’s decision provide welcome clarification on a number of key issues concerning the treatment of leases in retail CVAs.

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A cross-practice team led by partner Tom Astle has advised a syndicate of c.75 lenders under a bespoke €1.06bn super priority loan to distressed Croatian food producing and retail giant Agrokor (the “SPFA“) on an English law scheme of arrangement proposed by the company. The scheme of arrangement was approved by 97.92% in number of the lenders under the SPFA, representing 99.99% in value of scheme claims, at the creditors’ meeting earlier this week, and was sanctioned by Mr Justice Fancourt this morning.

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When a company is placed in business rescue, employee claims continue to arise in places like the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (the CCMA) and the Labour Court. And, there are cases where employees who have not received payment from their employer approach the Labour Court. The question that arises is how these claims are to be addressed.


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The Recast Insolvency Regulation 2015/848 governs cross-border insolvency proceedings within the European Union. It provides in particular for the opening of the main proceedings by the jurisdiction of the member state where the centre of the debtor’s main interests is located (presumed to be the place of its registered office) and the opening of one or more secondary proceedings in the member states where the debtor possesses an establishment.

In the case at hand, insolvency proceedings were opened in 2012 in Romania against Izoplac, its headquarters being in Romania. In 2014, Izoplac was placed under judicial liquidation in France upon the request of a creditor. The court set the insolvency date and the Public Prosecutor petitioned for a ban on managing against the manager for failing to file for insolvency within 45 days.
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Astaldi, the Italian multinational construction company, filed on Friday (28 September) for concordato in bianco. This is an in-court restructuring proceeding under the Italian Bankruptcy Law, which imposes a standstill period for up to six months. Astaldi’s reference to certain provisions in the Bankruptcy Law indicates that it intends to use the standstill period to prepare for a concordato preventivo filing. Astaldi again delayed publication of its 30 June 2018 financial report, and said that it would voluntarily migrate from the “Star” segment of the Borsa Italiana to the general MTA segment. The full text of the announcement is available here.

Astaldi’s €620m RCF matures in 2019, and its €750m bonds mature in 2020. Astaldi had previously announced a €300m capital raise plan, conditioned on the sale of its stake in the Third Bosphorus Bridge. This plan stalled after the sale was delayed amidst the recent economic uncertainty in Turkey. Astaldi announced that its new preliminary restructuring proposal contemplates a lease of its business units to two new Astaldi SPVs, new super senior funding and a capital raise.

In this report, we will discuss:

  • Key takeaways for bondholders;
  • Concordato in bianco; and
  • Concordato preventivo.


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Hogan Lovells’ London restructuring team led by partner Alex Kay has acted as lead transaction counsel and advisor to the ad hoc committee of Noteholders in the successful, landmark US$1 billion restructuring of Mriya Ago, the Ukrainian agricultural conglomerate.

Completion of the restructuring is the culmination of a multiyear process which has resulted in the first example of creditors taking control of a Ukrainian corporate.
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Substantial reforms to Regulation (EC) 1346/2000 on insolvency proceedings were made under Regulation (EU) 2015/848 of 20 May 2015 on insolvency proceedings (recast) (the “Recast Insolvency Regulation“).  The Recast Insolvency Regulation applies to insolvency proceedings commenced on or after 26 June 2017.   Following changes to the insolvency laws in a number of Member States, the European Commission has adopted new Annexes A and B, which contain the details of the insolvency proceedings and insolvency practitioners falling within the scope of the Recast Insolvency Regulation.
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The European regulation of 20 May 2015 on insolvency proceedings (the “Insolvency Regulation”) came into force a year ago, significantly modifying European insolvency law. An ordinance published in November 2017 started the process of adapting French law to reflect the requirements of the Insolvency Regulation. A decree of 5 June 2018 (the “Decree”) modifying the regulatory part of Book VI of the French Code de Commerce is the final piece in the jigsaw.

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