Restructuring and Corporate Rescue
There have been fewer acquisitions and sales with an insolvency background of late, as there were fewer major insolvencies. In contrast, the strong real estate market means a large number of real estate portfolios are being reorganized, while NPL transactions are also making a comeback, having only been seen at the international level for the past few years. Shipping, healthcare and energy supply are the quintessential crisis sectors – many corporate rescue experts are active here.
Trend toward disputes: conducting litigation, defending against claims
The advisors, along with the companies, decision-making bodies and shareholders they represent, are grappling with legal challenges against repayment claims by insolvency administrators, and occasionally with accusations of delays in filing for insolvency. On the one hand, this is creating a trend toward more litigation work. But on the other, corporate rescue advice is coming under pressure: in crisis situations it is paramount that companies and their advisors act quickly and with a certain amount of risk, without automatically getting caught in the crossfire. The decision by Frankfurt Regional Court (Landgericht) against Hengeler Mueller in the Q-Cells case puts even tighter restrictions on advisors. Instead of rescuing a company out of court, they may be forced once again to file for insolvency more quickly.
Declining corporate rescue work driving staff moves
Several firms used the drop in corporate rescue work to make changes to their teams. Jones Day lost two restructuring partners to Heuking Kühn Lüer Wojtek and Reed Smith.
Jones Day is looking to focus more on finance and shake off its previously dominant US ties somewhat. Dentons widened its scope with new additions, in Berlin especially but also in Frankfurt, and thus continued to develop a full-service approach in insolvency-related work. The hww Wienberg Wilhelm and Hermann merger was much talked about in insolvency administration circles. But the team of advisors at the new hww Hermann Wienberg Wilhelm will be stronger overall as well.
Corporate rescue advice and insolvency administration converging
Some firms brought corporate rescue know-how on board in a different way, namely by integrating individual insolvency administrators. Greenberg Traurig (Olswang from 2014 to 2015) is one new name, with administrator Christian Köhler-Ma. BDO Legal welcomed administrator Bernd Depping, who now operates under the name BDO Restructuring. Menold Bezler bolstered its Stuttgart practice with administrator Jochen Sedlitz, while SZA Schilling Zutt & Anschütz brought in administrator Thomas Oberle, who left Wellensiek in Heidelberg after many years. These are four examples of how the changes in the administration market are also changing advisory work.
Having been separate for a long time, the fields of insolvency administration and corporate rescue advice are converging – but not without challenges. Administrator expertise will no doubt give insolvency work a boost initially. But the balancing of interests is a tricky task – will administration or advice prevail in client inquiries?
The following chapter deals with firms where advice relating to insolvency is covered in depth or is relevant to the market due to the size and complexity of cases. Firms also offering insolvency administration are only discussed if their advisory activity is as pronounced as their administration work. More information can be found in the chapter on ?insolvency administration.
Advisory specialties vary considerably; restructuring is taken to mean predominantly the renegotiation of loans and the refinancing and changing of shareholder or creditor structures ( ?bank lending and acquisition finance, ?private equity), while corporate rescue primarily involves corporate law aspects and business management problems ( ?corporate). For restructuring issues specific to the banking sector, please see the ?banking and regulatory chapter.
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