Belgium

On Friday, 26 March 2021, the Belgian Insolvency Law was amended with the introduction of a pre-packaged insolvency procedure, allowing the debtor to discretely prepare for judicial reorganisation proceedings under the supervision of a judicial administrator, according to an analysis on JDSupra.com. Other noteworthy changes include (i) a lower threshold for the opening of judicial reorganisation proceedings, and (ii) the more flexible appointment of judicial administrators.
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Lawyers representing defunct Belgian airline ChallengeAir moved on Friday to seize Air Namibia’s headquarters after the state carrier failed to honour a 10 million euro ($12.14 million) settlement agreement reached last month to save it from liquidation, Reuters reported. Air Namibia survived liquidation attempts by creditor ChallengeAir SA in January when the two firms reached the settlement agreement minutes before liquidation proceedings were due to kick off.
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444 businesses declared bankruptcy in Belgium last month, resulting in the loss of 1,002 jobs according to the latest figures from Statbel, the Belgian statistical office, the Brussels Times reported. Of those jobs, 629 were full-time, 209 were part-time, and 164 were employers. In terms of a regional breakdown, the majority of bankruptcies came from Flanders with 219, followed by Wallonia with 136 and 89 in Brussels. This more or less reflects the variance in the number of overall businesses in each region.
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Belgian tax authorities and National Social Security Office, ONSS, have agreed, for the moment, not to declare businesses that are too heavily indebted bankrupt, Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne told the Chamber’s Economic Affairs Commission this week, the Brussels Times reported. A moratorium on bankruptcies ended on Monday and Parliament is yet to approve a new bill on the judicial reorganisation procedure. Amendments to a text prepared by the Government were submitted only on Friday.

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The board of the tour operator Neckermann, which runs a chain of travel agents across Belgium, has given itself until 22 February to solve its cash problems or declare bankruptcy, the Brussels Times reported. The deadline is a last-ditch effort to save the company, and the jobs of its 150 employees. In 2019 Neckermann Belgium was saved from the brink of bankruptcy after the collapse of the British parent company Thomas Cook when 62 of the 91 branches were taken over by Spanish tour company Wamos and rebranded as Neckermann.

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Swissport Belgium SA/NV, a loss-making unit of Swissport International AG which provides ground services at Brussels airport, will file for bankruptcy after attempts to turn around the business failed, Swissport said on Monday, Reuters reported. Its Belgian cleaning business will also file for bankruptcy, but the group’s separate cargo business in Brussels and Liege is unaffected, Swissport added in a statement. Swissport, owned by China’s HNA Group, is the world’s largest provider of airport ground services and air cargo handling with operations at 300 airports in 47 countries.

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The UK arm of the Belgian-owned bakery chain Le Pain Quotidien is at risk of falling into administration within days, putting 500 jobs under threat unless a buyer is found this week, the Financial Times reported. The restructuring experts Alvarez & Marsal are running an emergency sale of the 26-site café business with the deadline for bids on Wednesday, according to people with knowledge of the process. If no buyer is found during the sale process, known as Project Sunburst according to one person, administrators will be appointed.

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The Belgian economy could contract by 8% this year due to measures to contain the coronavirus before a sharp rebound in 2021, the country’s central bank and national planning agency said on Wednesday, Reuters reported. That rebound could be as much as 8.6%, although the bank and agency said their figures should be seen as a broad macroeconomic “scenario” rather than a firm granular forecast and that they were based on a number of conditions, with risks.

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Brussels and Rome have clashed over Italy’s economic policies, reigniting an argument over EU budget rules in a process that could lead to financial sanctions against Giuseppe Conte’s anti-establishment government, the Financial Times reported. The European Commission said on Wednesday that Italy had failed to meet agreed targets for reining in spending and cutting public debt, the second highest in the eurozone at 132 per cent of gross domestic product in 2018.

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