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.
Hogan Lovells’ London restructuring team led by partner Tom Astle assisted our clients, lenders of a €1.06bn priority funding loan, with distressed Croatian retail giant Agrokor’s proposed restructuring settlement plan which was voted for unanimously at a meeting of key creditors in Zagreb this week on 19 June 2018.
Having an agreed settlement plan is a breakthrough stage in the process and paves the way for one of the biggest restructurings in the world so far this year. The settlement plan will now be put to the wider creditor vote, requiring 66⅔ by value to approve, before being submitted to the Commercial Court of Zagreb for approval prior to 10 July 2018.
Regulation (EU) 2015/848 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 May 2015 on insolvency proceedings (recast) (the “Recast Insolvency Regulation“) applies to insolvency proceedings opened after 26 June 2017. Ordinance of 2 November 2017 (the “Ordinance“) amended the French Code de commerce to reflect the Recast Insolvency Regulation by inserting a new Title IX into Book VI. Continue Reading Insolvency Proceedings: ordinance adapting the French Code de commerce to the EU Regulation of May 2015 on insolvency proceedings
It’s an open secret that the commendable goals envisaged by the legislature with the introduction of the business rescue proceedings in Chapter 6 of our Companies Act are being hampered as a result of poorly drafted statutory provisions that govern the business rescue process. Section 141(2)(a)(ii) is however not one of these vague provisions. In Western Crown Properties 61 (Pty) Ltd vs Able Walling Solutions (Pty) Ltd & Others/ 8073/16, the Western Cape High Court considered this provision and whether a business rescue practitioner can merely file a notice for the termination of the business rescue proceedings without applying to court to liquidate the company. Continue Reading Taking the easy way out of business rescue proceedings
The English High Court has decided that collapsed retailer British Home Stores cannot challenge its own company voluntary arrangement as an unenforceable contractual penalty and must repay rental discounts to its landlords (Anthony John Wright and Geoffrey Paul Rowley as joint liquidators of SHB Realisations Limited (formerly BHS Limited) (in liquidation) v The Prudential Assurance Company Limited , decision handed down on 6 March 2018)
The case, in which Hogan Lovells represented the successful landlord, provides important guidance on the operation of company voluntary arrangements (CVAs), particularly after termination, and the payment of rent as an expense of a company’s administration in priority to other debts. Continue Reading BHS Company Voluntary Arrangement – Landlords Win on Penalties
In January 2018 the English High Court considered whether it had jurisdiction under the Cross-Border Insolvency Regulations 2006 (CBIR) to extend a temporary stay on the commencement of enforcement action in respect of English law debt obligations owed by a foreign debtor so that in effect the stay became permanent, or whether such a permanent stay would breach the long established rule in Gibbs(which provides that the discharge of an English law governed debt under the insolvency laws of a foreign jurisdiction outside of England and Wales is not a valid discharge of such debt). Ultimately, the court found that ordering a permanent stay would substantively affect the creditors’ rights and amount to a discharge of the English debts, in breach of the rule in Gibbs, and that the CBIR could not be used to modify that rule.
 Antony Gibbs & Sons v La Societe Industrielle et Commerciale des Mataux (1890) 25 QBD 399 Continue Reading “Stayin’ Alive” – English Court confirms CBIR doesn’t override the rule in Gibbs
On 8 February 2018, the Hong Kong Court of First Instance (the “Hong Kong Court“) ruled in Re Supreme Tycoon Limited  HKCFI 277 that the common law power to recognise and assist foreign insolvency proceedings extends to voluntary liquidations. This is the first authority on this issue in Hong Kong. Continue Reading Hong Kong Court confirms common law recognition and assistance for foreign voluntary liquidations
On 9 November 2017, in a rare example of a contested recognition hearing, His Honour Judge Paul Matthews granted recognition of Agrokor’s extraordinary administration (EA) as a foreign main proceeding under the Cross-Border Insolvency Regulations 2006 (CBIR).
Agrokor d.d. is the holding company for a group of companies specialising in agriculture, food production and related activities in Croatia. Before its financial difficulties, the group’s annual revenue was estimated to amount to around 15% of Croatia’s GDP. On 6 April 2017, the Law on Extraordinary Administration Proceeding of Companies of Systemic Importance for the Republic of Croatia (the Law, also known as Lex Agrokor) became effective. On 10 April 2017, following an application by Agrokor, an order for extraordinary administration (EA) was made in respect of Agrokor itself and 50 of its affiliates. In July 2017, Agrokor applied to the English court for recognition of the EA as a foreign proceeding under the CBIR. A proceeding will be a foreign proceeding if it is “…a collective judicial or administrative proceeding in a foreign State…pursuant to a law relating to insolvency in which proceeding the assets and affairs of the debtor are subject to control or supervision by a foreign court, for the purpose of reorganisation or liquidation” The recognition application was challenged by one of Agrokor’s largest creditors, who had also brought arbitration proceedings in the English courts, on a number of grounds, all of which were dismissed by the court.
A Hogan Lovells team led by partner Tom Astle is acting for an adhoc committee of bondholders, and providers of a c€1bn super senior DIP facility to the Agrokor Group.
In Re Lehman Brothers Europe Ltd (in administration)  EWHC 2031 (Ch) a proposal by joint administrators to appoint a director to a company already in administration (LBEL), in order to distribute surplus funds to its sole member (Lehman Brothers Holdings plc (LBH)), as opposed to a creditor, was held to be legally permissible, as well as pragmatic and beneficial.
It is unlikely that many (perhaps any) future administrations will result in a surplus of the size that has been generated in the Lehman administrations. For that reason, the decision in this case is unlikely to be of frequent direct application. Nevertheless, the case is a useful illustration that, while being mindful of Lord Neuberger’s stricture as to the need for legal certainty and to avoid unjustified judicial creativity outside the insolvency legislation, the courts are still willing to adopt a pragmatic approach in assisting insolvency practitioners who need to act quickly in circumstances where their proposed actions are not are not expressly addressed in IA 1986. The decision also provides a pertinent reminder for insolvency practitioners that they must carry out their functions as administrators with the aim of achieving the statutory purpose of the administration—merely avoiding conflict with that purpose is not sufficient.
Hogan Lovells acted for the administrators of Lehman Brothers Holdings PLC in this case.
Click here to read more (the article previously appeared in LexisPSL).
In a decision that will be welcomed both by second-ranking secured creditors and by administrators, the Court of Appeal recently held that a second-ranking floating charge (SRFC) was still capable of being a qualifying floating charge for the purposes of Schedule B1 of the Insolvency Act 1986 despite the earlier crystallisation of a prior-ranking floating charge (PRFC). In addition, the SRFC was capable of being enforceable notwithstanding the fact that there were no assets of the chargor which were not covered by the PRFC. Accordingly, the appointment of administrators by the holder of the SRFC was valid. Case: Saw (SW) 2010 Ltd v Wilson  EWCA Civ 1001