Insolvency and restructuring in Belgium
As 'experts in the field', DLA Piper is instructed by financial institutions, companies in distress and creditors on the full range of matters. In a recent highlight, the group advised Belgian fintech company Res Prepaid on its bankruptcy including the related investigation into how the losses of the affected consumers can be mitigated. Practice head Ilse Van de Mierop is regularly instructed as receiver, liquidator and provisional administrator by Brussels and Leuven insolvency courts, and has particular aviation sector restructuring expertise. Litigators Joris De Vos and Christian Van Buggenhout are other names to note, particularly for disputes and bankruptcy proceedings respectively.
Ilse Van de Mierop
‘Joris Devos is an excellent insolvency and restructuring lawyer. His experience and strategic insight makes him the best.‘
‘Experts in the field combined with useful legal strategy proposals.‘
CDE (Centre for the Development of Enterprise)
- Appointed as trustees in Belgian airline Sabena’s bankruptcy.
- Appointed as bankruptcy trustee in Belgian fintech Res Prepaid’s bankruptcy.
- Appointed as bankruptcy trustee for Your Estate Solution (which was formerly Optima Global Estate, the real estate branch of the Piqueur Family and the bankrupt Optima Bank), which was summoned to court by the bankruptcy trustee of Optima Bank for the breach of the payment plan in judicial reorganisation proceedings.
The restructuring and insolvency team at NautaDutilh frequently advises local and international financial institutions and real estate companies on restructuring and insolvency matters, as well as debtors in financial difficulty. The Brussels-based practice works closely with colleagues in its Dutch and Luxembourg offices, and recently advised on the Belgian and Luxembourg aspects of Cool Cat Belgium's bankruptcy. Sophie Jacmain is particularly experienced in advising on insolvency and out-of-court restructuring mandates and attracts praise for providing 'deep legal analysis and pragmatic solutions'. Jacmain heads up the team alongside Stan Brijs, who handles restructurings, recovery issues, insolvency work and litigation.
Sophie Jacmain; Stan Brijs
‘High-level legal analysis together with a very pragmatic approach on the cases, very responsive, good knowledge of the people involved in restructuring and insolvency in Belgium.’
‘Sophie Jacmain is key in the market. Thanks to her previous position as insolvency practitioner, she knows the right people and the way to interact with them. She is reliable, her team is great and I found her responsive.‘
ING Asset Finance NV
ABN Amro Bank
- Advised on the Belgian aspects of the Cool Cat group’s bankruptcy in Europe and assisted the directors in the filing for bankruptcy and related aspects including liability issues.
- Advised Aak Belgium/Aak Bastogne on the takeover of a bankrupt business in Belgium.
- Advising Engie Electrabel, the Belgian energy department of the French multinational Engie, and its subsidiaries on the framework of the insolvency of its German co-contracting party Senvion.
The insolvency and restructuring team at White & Case LLP is particularly strong for assisting international clients with cross-border matters. The practice handles insolvencies, restructurings and bankruptcy advice and the related disputes; it is advising Standard Chartered as lender on Exelco's cross-border insolvency filing, and represented Bank Indonesia in a dispute with the trustees of its former Dutch subsidiary, Indover. Thierry Bosly has a breadth of experience, particularly in insolvency mandates, and leads the team, which includes corporate and M&A specialist Muriel Alhadeff.
Bank of Indonesia
Oi SA (Group)
Standard Chartered Group
- Assisting Standard Chartered Group with the complex cross-border insolvency filing of Exelco.
- Represented Bank Indonesia in a major dispute with the trustees of its former Dutch subsidiary, Indover.
- Advising GSO, as one of the largest secured creditors of Gibson Brands, on its restructuring in the US.
Allen & Overy LLP
The restructuring team at Allen & Overy LLP combines insolvency and restructuring expertise with strong banking and finance, corporate and M&A, and litigation experience. The group is particularly well-known for non-contentious matters, but has been increasingly active in disputes; it also recently strengthened its litigation practice with the promotion of Thales Mertens to the partnership. Antwerp-based Filip Tanghe, who is strong for out-of-court restructuring matters, jointly leads the team alongside litigator Koen Van Den Broeck and Thales in Brussels.
Filip Tanghe; Koen Van den Broeck; Thales Mertens
ING Bank N.V.
KBC Bank NV
BNP Paribas Fortis
- Advising ING Bank as mandated lead arrangers on the provision of $700m borrowing base facilities to OW Bunker & Trading, following the bankruptcy of the global OW Bunker Group.
- Advising Meyvaert on the acquisition of the Eribel Group following its insolvency proceedings.
Liedekerke Wolters Waelbroeck Kirkpatrick's restructuring and insolvency practice benefits from 'solid and experienced legal advisers' with experience across the full range of advisory matters, restructuring transactions and banking and finance litigation. The group has been particularly active advising debtors on bankruptcies and handling directors liability issues. Roel Fransis, who focuses primarily on international insolvency law and finance litigation, heads up the team with Paul Vandepitte, who handles a range of mandates from litigation to informal restructuring matters and judicial reorganisations.
Roel Fransis; Paul Vandepitte
Windt Le Grand Leeuwenburgh
Mount Street Mortgage Servicing
Tesla Motors Belgium
Glory Wealth Shipping
Quinn Group Belgium
- Assisting UK-based Mount Street Mortgage Servicing with the recovery of a €101m mortgage backed claim under a facilities agreement with Gibraltar-based entities.
- Successfully assisted a New-York based private equity and hedge fund with the recovery of its $11m loan against a Belgium-based real estate developer, which went into insolvency.
- Advised Quinn Radiators on the restructuring of its Belgian subsidiary and assisted the Belgian subsidiary with filing for bankruptcy.
Stibbe fields experts from its finance, corporate, restructuring, litigation, labour and tax practices to advise on the full spectrum of insolvency and restructuring matters. Practice head Paul Van der Putten and counsel Pieter Wouters handle restructuring issues and insolvency litigation, and also have experience acting as liquidators, while Oliver Stevens has particular expertise advising creditors (primarily banks and leasing companies) on cases of financial distress and insolvencies.
Paul Van der Putten
‘Very well-organized team composed of very competent people which allows them to cope with big amounts of work without that having an effect on quality or timing.‘
‘The team is, in our experience, head and shoulders above other firms in their experience and understanding of cross-border insolvency proceedings. They have also assisted us in contentious insolvency matters where they have unique experience in the Belgium courts.‘
‘Working with Oliver Stevens and Tobe Inghelbrecht is a pleasure even in very stressful circumstances. Advice is very clear and well-founded.‘
‘We have worked very closely with Pieter Wouters. He is extremely experienced in contentious matters and cross-border insolvency. His advice is always extremely commercial and sensible.’
‘Pieter Wouters is extremely experienced in contentious matters and cross-border insolvency. His advice is always extremely commercial and sensible.‘
National Bank of Belgium
UK Administrators of Nortel Networks
Elavon Financial Services
- Assisting the Belgian State and its deposit guarantee fund with all possible litigation arising from Optima Bank’s bankruptcy.
- Advising KBC Bank on its reorganisation and bankruptcy proceedings.
- Assisting Nyobe with its judicial reorganisation procedure with a view of transferring its activities under the court’s supervision, after it was confronted with a fiscal claim of €100m.
Attracting praise for its 'practical approach', Strelia's insolvency and restructuring practice is particularly active in insolvency matters and has experience defending debtors in litigation. Bart De Moor is 'an outstanding lawyer in the field of restructuring and insolvency law and as insolvency practitioner', and leads the department, which leverages the firm's full-service offering and frequently works with the corporate, tax and employment teams.
Bart De Moor
‘Very good boutique law firm with strong expertise in company law, restructuring and insolvency law. Very experienced in cross-border cases.‘
‘Strelia and especially Mr De Moor combines specialised knowledge with true Belgian culture. The latter is very important to get things done in Belgium.‘
‘Bart de Moor is a very quick mind with broad experience in insolvency matters and a very good understanding of the economics involved.‘
‘Bart de Moore is an exceptional legal advisor in cross border cases.‘
‘Bart De Moor was appointed to us by the court and from the beginning was very professional and human in that difficult period.‘
‘Bart de Moor and Siegfried Omanukwue have distinguished themselves by a high degree of professional competence and a very careful preparation.‘
‘Bart de Moor is a very pleasant person, highly experienced and reputed, which makes him effective to get things done.‘
Photo Hall Multimedia NV
Free Record Shop
- Acted as the court appointed office holder in the judicial reorganisation of companies of the Flamant Group, including a total transfer of undertakings.
- Acted as curator (liquidator appointed by the court) in the bankruptcy of one of the major Belgian retail companies Photo Hall Multimedia, comprising more than 80 shops and subsidiaries in Luxembourg and France.
- Appointed as liquidator in the voluntary liquidation proceedings initiated by the general assembly of the law firm Lawfort and the president of the Bar association.
ALTIUS’ insolvency and restructuring team acts for creditors and companies in financial distress, and also advises the business partners of companies on the verge of insolvency. The cross-departmental team is jointly led by corporate and M&A specialist Carine Van Regenmortel and dispute resolution expert Alexander Hansebout.
Carine Van Regenmortel; Alexander Hansebout
‘Strong personalities, always available and able to advise. Proven professionals.’
‘Very good and fast communication in a professional way. Extremely good knowledge and experience.‘
‘Quick responses, proactive approach, stay within budget, excellent price – quality ratio. One of the best firms we work with globally. Open communication.‘
‘Altius have a deep understanding of our organisation and know very well what is important for us and relevant for us. Altius has great expertise, strong commitment to the assignment, does not spend time on extensive advice reports but provides the specific advice we are looking for. Pricing is competitive.‘
‘Yves Brosens and Bart Heynicks, very professional and accurate and always available for help and feedback. We feel secure with them.‘
‘Proactive approach and very hands-on mentality. Have already taken care of matters before we even raised them.‘
‘Carine Van Regenmortel has great and broad expertise, is deeply involved and on top of any assignment. Collaboration is excellent and Carine is fully committed to get things done. She is not afraid to challenge the customers and perfectly understands when she should be there herself and also empowers her associates.‘
‘Bart Heynickx is a real expert in his field.‘
‘Thijs Herremans is highly involved and on top of his tasks. He is fully committed to get things done. Ambition and drive are obvious.‘
Dutch printing group De Jong Em
Produce & Packaging SPRL (now Imprimerie Casterman SA)
Amer Sports (France)
Lierse Sporting Club
Belgian Judo Federation
Van Nieuwpoort Group
- Advised Midroc on issues arising from the financial difficulties faced by its joint venture partner Upgrade Energy.
- Assisting Ambition as creditor with the reorganisation and financial difficulties of the media-company Marmelade Group.
- Assisting German company Amberg with issues relating to the reorganisation and court protection of its principal supplier of machinery, Biebuyck.
ASTREA's collection, attachment and insolvency practice acts for creditors and debtors on a range of matters from reorganisation projects to cross-border insolvency mandates. The group's diverse client roster spans large companies including Inbev Belgium, and start-ups. Litigator Louis Verstraeten leads the practice.
‘They try to understand the company’s problems after which the right legal strategy will be implemented. It is more than just executing what the company asks. It is a partnership.‘
‘Louis Verstraeten and Clara Vanhecke form a fantastic partner/associate team as they are both fully operational on a case and know all the details. Availability is top.‘
Bridgestone Belux nv/sa
BHP Billiton Marketing AG
Inbev Belgium nv/sa
Laurent Fisch, liquidator
Torus Pak Europe nv
Imtech Belgium nv/sa (the directors of)
Schulze & Braun
- Assisting the Belgian branch of AB INBEV with all debt recovery matters; the group also represented the client in litigation challenging the unsecured position of AB INBEV under the new Belgian insolvency law.
- Advised technology start-up Pryme Invest on initiating insolvency proceedings and obtained out-of-court debt rescheduling agreements.
- Advised Dutch companies, MAG Holding and MAG Stock on their acquisition of the clothing brands of McGregor and Gaastra out of Dutch bankruptcy proceedings.
CMS has experience assisting companies, directors and financial institutions facing difficulties, as well as companies involved in the insolvencies of business partners. The practice benefits from the ability to field a multidisciplinary team from its full-service offering. Jean-François Goffin leads the team and has particular expertise in director liability issues.
‘Pro-active approach and very responsive which is important in critical, difficult times; able to develop various options and scenarios with their respective pros and cons.‘
‘Banking and finance associate partner Benoit Vandervelde has a very pragmatic approach to achieve realistic outcomes.‘
La Grande Récré (Ludendo Group)
- Advised Nutara, a Singapore-based environmental technology group, facing the insolvency of one of its business partners and assisted it with the purchase of certain assets of the Belgian company Europem in insolvency proceedings.
- Advised Elof Hansson, a Swedish company active in the paper industry, on its partnership with Belgian paper pulp producer Virginal Papers and securing Elof’s interest further to Virginal Papers’ bankruptcy.
- Advised Kompass Group on the bankruptcy of its Belgian subsidiary.
Loyens & Loeff's cross-departmental insolvency and restructuring team has experience acting on the full range of transactional work and litigation relating to companies in financial distress. The practice has particular expertise in financial restructurings and benefits from the group's experience in structured finance work, securitisations and regulated markets. Counsel Laurent Mertens leads the practice.
Credit Suisse AG, London branch
National Bank of Kazakhstan
Everyan Hospitality Properties NV
Fabory Centres Belgium NV
- Advising Greenyard on its international restructuring, potentially impacting 422 jobs, and coordinating the transformation plan in different countries.
- Advised Visionscape UK Holding on its judicial restructuring process and successfully defended against a creditors claim for a forced transfer of business.
- Advising SD Worx on its strategic restructuring, which could potentially impact about 500 employees, to avoid a collective dismissal.
Lydian's insolvency and restructuring team is highlighted for its strength in corporate restructurings and reorganisations, workforce restructurings and issues arising from the recovery of assets from distressed companies. Litigator Yves Lenders and corporate and finance expert Patrick della Faille jointly head up the practice; Lenders represents directors, shareholders and creditors in insolvency proceedings, while della Faille assists companies with judicial restructurings.
Yves Lenders; Patrick della Faille
‘On top of being a very good lawyer, Patrick della Faille is a financial analyst, hence he has the capacity to understand IFRS and accounting manipulations much better than a lawyer without this financial expertise. Patrick is able to understand sophisticated fraud that would otherwise look benign.‘
‘Patrick della Faille has the gift to be able to explain with simple words complex fraud and accounting manipulations to non-financial experts.‘
De Rouck Geomatics
- Advised Verona, a manufacturing company held by a private equity fund, on a judicial reorganisation.
- Advised Canon Europa on issues arising from one its suppliers entering into Belgian judicial reorganisation proceedings, which led to a suspension of services, jeopardising an IT project.
- Assisting Comic Station Antwerp with judicial reorganisation proceedings.
Monard Law has experience spanning insolvency and restructuring-related matters, and is frequently instructed by debtor and creditor clients. Antwerp-based practice head Youri Steverlynck and of counsel Inge De Haes are regularly appointed as bankruptcy trustees by the Commercial Court in Antwerp. The team also benefits from its ability to leverage the firm's full-service Belgian expertise across transactional work and litigation.
Intenzo Real Estate
Union Bank of India
Eurostar Diamond Traders
VCR Van Cauwenbergh
Equatorial Congo Airlines
- Assisted Eurobeton with obtaining court protection against creditors, and also advised on a collective agreement with creditors for the partial waiver of all company debts.
- Representing Eurostar Diamond Traders in bankruptcy proceedings.
Quinz 'combines solid insolvency law and company law knowledge with its litigation strength', and is particularly strong in disputes including banking recovery matters, insolvency cases and creditor litigation. The team also advises on restructuring and debtor protection schemes. 'Star partner' Benoît Allemeersch and 'well-know insolvency litigator' Vincent Van Obberghen jointly lead the practice.
Benoît Allemeersch; Vincent Van Obberghen
‘They are a fantastic team who have thought about the wider picture. The teamwork was truly remarkable.‘
‘Quick and direct communication lines with their best skilled and most competent attorneys, transparency and efficient problem solving are the most valuable characteristics of the law firm.‘
‘Quinz are very quick to react, give feedback and align with the customer.‘
‘Their ability to quickly adapt to changing circumstances, as well as seizing opportunities that arise along the way, is truly refreshing within the existing law practices.‘
‘They are a very solid advisor in litigious insolvency situations.‘
‘The team’s strength is, next to having been involved in the more complex insolvency and restructuring issues in Belgium, their capacity to think out of the box, their structural approach and their networking capacity.‘
‘Joeri Vananroye and Stijn De Dier are exceptional and world-class attorneys. The combination of their academic achievements and their professional focus and dedication is truly unique in Belgium. Unlike other academics, their direct and pragmatic approach to complex legal matters is highly appreciated in business-oriented environments. ‘
‘Partner Benoît Allemeersch is a star who commands respect from his peers. Most lawyers and judges know him. Usually in charge of the litigation aspects but also the negotiations.‘
‘Benoît Allemeersch is a very good litigator who is hardworking and able to combine theoretical knowledge with practical approach.‘
Krea Sales CPM
- Assisting Krea Sales CPM with its restructuring, including advising on a buyout of the minority shareholder, proposition of a debtor protection scheme and attracting new capital.
- Acting as liquidator of IC Woluwe, the former owner and operator of the valley drainage facilities and swamp sewers of the valley of the river Woluwe.
- Representing Belfius Bank in group litigation against shareholders of the Arco group for the recover of loss resulting from the company’s ongoing liquidation.
Litigation boutique Racine has 'a very strong reputation for insolvency' and attracts praise for being 'embedded in local practice and down to earth'. The group is instructed in insolvency and restructuring-related litigation and is frequently appointed as trustee and liquidator in bankruptcies and liquidation proceedings. Practice head Joan Dubaere, Stijn Vanschoubroek, Stefaan Aerts and associate Rubben Lindemans are all experienced in insolvency matters.
‘Large practice with in depth experience and a real focus on insolvency.‘
‘Joan Dubaere and associate Rubben Lindemans have a pragmatic approach and propose practical solutions for clients.‘
‘Racine has a strong reputation in the area of insolvency law. With a considerable number of accredited bankruptcy administrators within this firm, it is the go-to firm when dealing with insolvency situations. Their combined practical experience is unrivalled by any other Belgian law firm.‘
‘Stefaan Aerts stands out as having a commercially astute and very hands on approach.‘
‘Stefaan Aerts is a talented lawyer with a hands-on approach, which is highly valued by clients. His advice is always clear and straightforward. It is also a pleasure working with someone who is this available and responsive.‘
‘Rubben Lindemans has also built a strong reputation as one of the rising stars in the insolvency landscape. I look forward to working with him.‘
Besix Sanotec / Flamant Design
BNP Paribas Fortis Factor
BNP Paribas Fortis Lease
Goldman Sachs International
Hervé Hubert Group
- Appointed as liquidator of Flamant, Flamant Group and Flamant Retail Belgium retail companies.
- Appointed as the provisional administrator of a four-star hotel in Brussels and initiated a court-supervised transfer of the business pursuant to the Business Continuity Act.
- Appointed as bankruptcy receivers of Cool Cat Belgium, part of a fashion chain with headquarters in the Netherlands.