Insolvency proceedings

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.

Continue Reading English recognition for Agrokor insolvency: not a tick-box exercise

In Re Lehman Brothers Europe Ltd (in administration) [2017] 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 [2017] EWCA Civ 1001

Continue Reading Administration appointment valid notwithstanding crystallisation of prior-ranking floating charge

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.