South Africa’s central bank slashed its growth forecasts on Monday, predicting the economy could shrink by as much as 4% in 2020 due to the novel coronavirus, which has forced a national lockdown and triggered two credit ratings downgrades, Reuters reported. The bank also said growth was unlikely to exceed 1% in 2021, job losses this year could reach 370,000, and business insolvencies would likely increase by 1,600. While painting a grim outlook, it dampened expectations of the kind of radical stimulus measures Western countries have adopted to tackle it.
Finnish department store owner Stockmann has decided to file for a corporate restructuring after the drop in customer volumes caused by the coronavirus outbreak, it said on Monday, sending shares in the company down 32%, Reuters reported. Stockmann said its main creditors had given a positive initial response to the move, which is a form of administration in which a court appointee is charged with restructuring the company to avoid bankruptcy.
Europe’s construction industry has suffered its biggest drop in activity since the financial crisis after many building sites closed and the supply of workers, materials and safety equipment was heavily disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, the Financial Times reported. The IHS Markit purchasing managers’ survey for construction fell from 52.5 in February to 33.5 in March, figures published on Monday showed.
The European Commission is considering proposals that would allow EU member states to help companies through the injection of equity, the latest move aimed at relaxing state aid rules to tackle the coronavirus crisis, the Financial Times reported. The new proposal calls on member states to “provide further support in equity or hybrid capital instruments” to those businesses directly affected by the pandemic, people with direct knowledge of the plan said.
As the coronavirus crisis deepens in emerging economies around the world, collapsing currencies, commodity prices, export earnings and tourism revenues threaten to shred the finances of many governments, leaving them scrambling to avoid default, the Financial Times reported. Zambia has already called in advisers to restructure its debt while Ecuador has asked for more time to make coupon payments on three dollar bonds. Few analysts believe they will be the last.
Italy’s government expanded its powers to block foreign takeovers and prepared a massive injection of liquidity into companies that risk bankruptcy amid the world’s deadliest coronavirus outbreak, Bloomberg News reported. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced new economic measures as the country enters its fifth week of lockdown, with all non-essential businesses shuttered and still no plan to relax restrictions. Italy reported 3,599 new infections on Monday, the lowest in nearly three weeks.
Lebanon’s foreign-exchange crisis is intensifying, prompting another appeal by the government for financial aid after its debt default last month, Bloomberg News reported. Local banks have reduced the amount of dollars customers can withdraw from their accounts and even forced them to accept conversions into the local currency in some instances. Two of the largest have almost stopped dispensing foreign exchange entirely, while the central bank has greatly cut its supply, said senior bankers, who didn’t want to be named.
Argentina unilaterally postponed until next year the payment on $10bn of dollar-denominated debt governed by local law on Monday in what some analysts have called a technical default, the Financial Times reported. The move has raised new concerns about Argentina’s approach to debt restructuring as it negotiates the fate of $83bn in debt issued under foreign law. Private sector investors holding that debt expect an offer to be made by the centre-left government of President Alberto Fernández as soon as this week.
Sweden-based airline BRA said on Monday it had applied for court-administered reorganisation as it sought to avoid bankruptcy after the rapidly spreading new coronavirus caused a collapse in demand, Reuters reported. The small privately held airline had said only days ago it was temporarily discontinuing all traffic between April 6 and May 31 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, of which there have been more than 6,000 confirmed cases in Sweden.
British department store chain Debenhams is preparing to enter administration for the second time in a year to protect the business from legal action from creditors during the coronavirus emergency that could have pushed it into liquidation, Reuters reported. The retailer said on Monday it had filed a notice of intent (NOI) to appoint an administrator. With Britain in lockdown during the pandemic, Debenhams’ 142 UK stores are currently closed, while the majority of its 22,000 workers are being paid under the government’s furlough scheme. It continues to trade online.
Resources by Country & Region
William Fry recently advised Ballantyne Re plc (“Ballantyne”), an Irish reinsurance SPV, on an Irish law scheme of arrangement to restructure its reinsurance obligations and outstanding New York law governed indebtedness, such that the residual value in the company could be distributed to its senior noteholders (the “Scheme”).
An international multi-disciplinary approach to combatting fraud in insolvency by Carmel King & Willem van Nielen
An international multidisciplinary approach to combatting fraud in insolvency is a practical necessity. Where cases are multi-jurisdictional, it is essential to use innovative approaches with input across several disciplines. The INSOL Europe Anti-Fraud Forum (“AFF”) was established with this as one of its aims. This working group currently has 69 members spanning 22 jurisdictions, all of whom specialise in using insolvency processes to assist with the tracing and recovery of assets.
Coordinating the Preventive Restructuring Directive and the Recast European Insolvency Regulation by Lorenzo Stanghellini and Andrea Zorzi
Issues arising from coordination among possible cross-border procedures seem underestimated in the Directive on Preventive Restructuring Frameworks (the “Directive”). The Directive purports to be almost indifferent to the Recast European Insolvency Regulation (“Recast EIR”).
The brand new Directive on Preventive Restructuring Frameworks (EU No 2019/1023 of 20 June 2019) presents a promising toolbox for restructuring debtor companies, containing features such as a very early starting point, the debtor-in-possession approach, a flexible stay, the restructuring plan’s adoption out-of-court and the cross-class cram-down.
This updated edition describes the framework of the European Insolvency Regulation Recast (adopted in June 2017), reviews its major rules, highlights the differences from the old EIR 2000, and makes references to the most important and recent cases of the Court of Justice of the European Union. An essential guide for non-European judges, practitioners and scholars who are confronted with this domain of law, as well as anyone dealing with EU-related cross-border cases, this book serves as a concise and comprehensive introduction to the EIR Recast.
Chapter 15 for Foreign Debtors covers all aspects of the UNCITRAL Model Law on Cross-Border Insolvency as well as chapter 15 of the Bankruptcy Code, and provides details about the Foreign Representative, avoidance actions, creditor protections, concurrent proceedings, comity and much more. The book also includes an extensive appendix filled with more than 500 pages of sample case documents and forms related to chapter 15 proceedings.
This book is the latest addition to our list of publications and it provides basic information on Islamic finance. It is meant to be a useful reference tool to the majority of insolvency practitioners who do not work in this field. The chapters in this book were selected on the basis that it is expected that most INSOL members currently have very limited understanding of Islamic finance.
The book has 10 chapters, a country study, and an annexure with a glossary of Islamic finance terms. Following the introductory chapter there are chapters on: