De pauliana tegen de splitsing van een insolvente vennootschap. Ook een rechtspersoon mag waardig sterven.

Noot in TRV/RPS over onevenwichtige splitsing in schemerzone voor faillissement

Als een rechtspersoon op de rand van het faillissement staat, kunnen insiders proberen het vermogen van die rechtspersoon  uit te hollen door middel van een herstructurering, bijvoorbeeld een splitsing. Zo kunnen ze nog snel de gezonde delen uit de rechtspersoon halen vóór de curator die vereffent ten voordele van de schuldeisers. Met de actio pauliana kan een dergelijke schuldeisersbenadelende splitsing echter onder bepaalde voorwaarden niet-tegenwerpelijk worden verklaard. Ook kunnen insiders mogelijk aansprakelijk worden gesteld voor de schuldeisersbenadeling die uit de splitsing is voortgekomen.

In een recente noot in het TRV-RPS bespreken we een interessant toepassingsgeval, waarover de rechtbank van koophandel van Gent (afdeling Dendermonde) zich heeft gebogen. We analyseren daarbij kritisch de toepassingsvoorwaarden voor pauliana-aanvechting  van een splitsing en de band tussen paulianeus gedrag van insiders en hun aansprakelijkheid. Vooral de schadebegroting van de rechtbank doet verbazen: hoofdelijke aansprakelijkheid van de gesplitste vennootschappen en hun zaakvoerders voor het hele faillissementspassief. Met een goed begrip van wat pauliaanse verhaalsbenadeling net is, wordt duidelijk dat daarmee meer dan de werkelijke schade wordt vergoed: Continue reading “De pauliana tegen de splitsing van een insolvente vennootschap. Ook een rechtspersoon mag waardig sterven.”

New ECJ ruling on price adjustments in mandatory bids in case of collusion

Marco Tronchetti Provera SpA e.a. v. Consob on article 5(4) of the Takeover Directive

In a decision of 20 July 2017 in the case Marco Tronchetti Provera SpA e.a. v. Consob, the European Court of Justice ruled for the first time on the interpretation of article 5(4) of the Takeover Directive, which covers the possibility for the national supervisory authority to adjust the price of a mandatory bid. In this case, the Italian supervisory authority, the Consob, had decided to increase the price because it believed that there was collusion between the bidder and one of the sellers. This price adjustment was allowed by Italian takeover law, but the bidder believed that the Italian law violated the Takeover Directive, arguing that the criteria for a price adjustment were insufficiently clear. Continue reading “New ECJ ruling on price adjustments in mandatory bids in case of collusion”

Frederik De Leo op de Oxford Business Law Blog over de pre-pack

The pre-pack: what else? (Estro/Smallstep)

Op Oxford Business Law Blog verscheen vandaag een analyse door Frederik De Leo (KU Leuven) van het arrest “Estro/Smallstep” van het Europees Hof van Justitie.  Daarbij merkt de auteur op dat het voorlopig intrekken van de bepaling inzake het stil faillissement  in het Belgisch wetsontwerp tot hervorming van het insolventierecht door minister Geens een slimme zet was. Volgens de auteur zou de desbetreffende bepaling (het toenmalig ontwerp-artikel XX.33 WER) de toets aan het Europees recht per het arrest “Estro/Smallstep” niet gehaald hebben.

U kon in een eerder gepubliceerde post door Frederik De Leo op deze blog reeds een uitgebreidere analyse lezen.

The ECJ in “Estro/Smallstep” on the Dutch pre-pack in relation to article 5(1) of Directive 2001/23

A red flag for the pre-pack as we know it?

In its preliminary ruling of today, the ECJ has decided that the Dutch pre-pack does not come under the derogation in Article 5(1) of Directive 2001/23. The reasoning of the ECJ will have important consequences for the pre-pack-practice and (draft) legislation in all European Member States, including Belgium, Germany, France and the United Kingdom.

Background: Project Butterfly

In November 2013, Estro Groep BV (with 380 establishments and 3.600 employees the largest childcare company in the Netherlands) entered into financial distress. Since plan A, i.e. consulting its lenders and principal shareholders in order to obtain further financing, was unsuccessful, “Project Butterfly” came into force. Under Project Butterfly, a significant part of Estro Group would be transferred pursuant to a pre-pack: 243 centers out of 380 would be saved and 2.500 employees out of 3.600 would keep their job. Continue reading “The ECJ in “Estro/Smallstep” on the Dutch pre-pack in relation to article 5(1) of Directive 2001/23”

The US Sunnyslope–case: a slippery slope for creditors?

Valuation in cramdown procedures: creditors be damned?

The facts of the case

The debtor, Sunnyslope Housing Limited Partnership (“Sunnyslope”), developed and operated an apartment complex intended to provide affordable housing. When Sunnyslope defaulted on the senior loan for the project, the Department of Housing and Urban Development honored its guarantee, acquired the senior loan from the original private lender, and resold it to First Southern National Bank. First Southern started the foreclosure process, which would have wiped out affordable housing restrictive covenants related to additional financing. The debtor then was put into bankruptcy, and it exercised the cramdown option of 11 U.S.C. § 1325(a)(5)(B) and elected to retain the property in exchange for a new payment plan that would require it to pay First Southern an amount equal to the present value of the secured claim at the time of bankruptcy.

Sunnyslope argued that the value of First Southern’s secured interest should be calculated with the affordable housing restrictions remaining in place. Continue reading “The US Sunnyslope–case: a slippery slope for creditors?”

Akzo Nobel: Activist Shareholders Hit Wall of Dutch Stakeholder Model

An analysis by Tom Vos & Thom Wetzer

An attempt at courtship has ended up in court. Over the past months, US paints and coatings giant PPG Industries (‘PPG’) has tried to woe the management and shareholders of Dutch rival Akzo Nobel (‘Akzo’) with friendly takeover offers. It has been rewarded by a consistently aloof response from Akzo’s boards, and especially its Chairman Antony Burgmans, who has so far refused to enter talks. On May 29, the Enterprise Chamber of Amsterdam (a Dutch commercial court) rejected efforts by some of Akzo’s shareholders, led by activist investor Elliott Management Corp. (‘Elliott’), to force a shareholder vote intended to oust Mr. Burgmans.

The case comes at a critical time in what has become an increasingly bitter exchange. Akzo has so far rejected three unsolicited friendly offers from PPG, arguing that they undervalue the company, do not make any serious commitments to its stakeholders, demonstrate a cultural lack of understanding, and entail significant risks and uncertainties (including lengthy reviews by the EU’s competition authority). Continue reading “Akzo Nobel: Activist Shareholders Hit Wall of Dutch Stakeholder Model”

EU company law: public consultation on rules on digital solutions and efficient cross-border operations

The European Commission recently opened a public consultation to collect input from stakeholders on problems in company law, gather evidence of such problems and ask their views on possible solutions on how to address the problems at EU level. The consultation focuses on the use of online tools throughout the companies’ lifecycle, the cross-border mobility of companies (again) and (the need for) conflict-of-law rules for companies (a recent study on the law applicable to companies, can be consulted here). Continue reading “EU company law: public consultation on rules on digital solutions and efficient cross-border operations”