Global Restructuring Review - Cross-border restructuring and insolvency legal news, features and events

GRR Awards 2018 – the first shortlist

Kyriaki Karadelis

04 June 2018

GRR Awards 2018 – the first shortlist Profits from the GRR Awards go to the Swawou Layout School in Sierra Leone (Credit: Swawou Layout Community Primary School for Girls)

GRR is delighted to reveal the first shortlist of nominees for our 2018 Awards, in the category of "Most important recognition decision".

The GRR Awards 2018 will take place on 26 June at the glamourous neo-classical Banking Hall in London from 7pm. It will include a networking drinks reception and dinner before the main presentation, where we will be handing out accolades to winners in nine categories.

In addition to those nine categories, we'll also be revealing the top 30 firms in the GRR 100 2018 – our annual guide to approved cross-border insolvency and restructuring law firms, which is unveiled to the wider public the morning after the awards.

Over the past few weeks, you'll have seen us collecting nominations for some of the nine awards categories. We've now whittled them down to make shortlists of the best and most prominent matters.

Below are the nominees for most important recognition decision.

Shortlists for our other categories - innovation in cross-border insolvency and restructuring; cooperation in a specific insolvency or restructuring matter; most improved jurisdiction; most significant insolvency or restructuring related litigation; large law firm that impressed; small or regional law firm that impressed; and advisory firm that impressed - will follow in the coming days.

We will also be presenting on the night a special lifetime achievement award to a prominent UK insolvency practitioner with a long history of acting on some of the most seminal insolvency and restructuring cases. The recipient's name will also be revealed in the coming days.

The ultimate winner of each category will be announced one the night of the GRR Awards 2018 ceremony.

Importantly, profits from the black tie event go to the Swawou Layout Community Primary School for Girls in Sierra Leone. The school is part of a project established by GRR’s parent company, Law Business Research, in 2008 to offer free primary education to girls from disadvantaged homes in Kenema town, eastern Sierra Leone.

For more details, photos from last year and to book a place on a table, please visit the GRR Awards 2018 event website.

Most important recognition decision: the nominees

In re CGG – in the US Bankrupcty Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Martin Glenn recognised the French restructuring of oil services firm CGG – the first occasion a US court has recognised French sauveguarde proceedings.

In re Avanti Communications Group – Again in a ruling issued by Judge Martin Glenn, the SDNY bankruptcy court recognised the English scheme proceedings of London-based satellite operator Avanti Communications, including the release of guarantees made by the company and its non-debtor subsidiaries. The case is significant because US courts have been reluctant to authorise third-party releases in Chapter 11 cases, but the court said that principles of comity allowed it to recognise and enforce the scheme.

Supreme Tycoon – in the Hong Kong Court of First Instance Mr Justice Jonathan Harris recognised media company Supreme Tycoon’s voluntary winding up in the British Virgin Islands, rejecting the 2014 Singularis precedent in which the UK Privy Council said that the common law power of assistance was available only to “officers of a foreign court of insolvency jurisdiction” and extended only to compulsory liquidations.

Cyprus Popular Bank v Vgenopoulos & others – The England and Wales Court of Appeal ruled that a worldwide freezing order, granted to a bank in resolution measures by a Cypriot court in 2013, was immediately effective in the UK upon registration by an English judge – regardless of any pending appeals. The court found immediate application was in line with the EU Judgments Regulation and the UK legislation transposing it into English law.

In the matter of Changgang Dunxin Enterprise Company – in the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands Justice Ingrid Mangatal granted interim recognition to joint provisional liquidators (JPLs) appointed in Hong Kong over Changgang Dunxin, a Cayman-incorporated investment holding company. Before this case it was unclear whether common law recognition could be used to authorise foreign insolvency officers to present a winding-up petition in the Cayman Islands, but the court ruled it could – effectively allowing the JPLs to move the case to Grand Cayman and facilitate a restructuring via parallel schemes.

In the matter of Agrokor DD – In the English High Court Mr Justice Paul Matthews dismissed the first challenge to a recognition application under the UK’s Cross Border Insolvency Regulations (CBIR), recognising Croatian conglomerate Agrokor’s extraordinary administration under an emergency law for companies of systemic significance. Russia’s Sberbank argued that Agrokor’s Croatian proceedings did not amount to a “foreign proceeding” within the CBIR, because the purpose of the special law was to protect the Croatian economy from systemic risk, not to facilitate a restructuring for the benefit of creditors – but the court disagreed. 

In the matter of Lee Douglass (in bankruptcy) – in the Royal Court of Guernsey Deputy Bailiff Richard James McMahon recognised the rights of bankruptcy trustees, appointed in England, to collect funds, assets, books, papers and other records related to foreign company director Lee Douglass in Guernsey. The decision clarified for the first time “the inter-relationship” between désastre proceedings in Guernsey and foreign insolvency proceedings. The court stopped short of letting the English trustees collect proceeds from the sale of Douglass’ assets in his local désastre process.

In re Oi Brasil Holdings Coöperatief – This time in the SDNY bankruptcy court, Judge Sean Lane declined to recognise Dutch insolvency proceedings launched by an affiliate of the Brazilian telecoms company Oi, accusing one of the group’s major creditors of weaponising the Chapter 15 process to attack Oi’s Brazilian judicial reorganisation. Judge Lane noted that creditor Aurelius had failed to object when the US court recognised the Brazilian process in 2016, and that it had later increased its holdings in Coöp’s debt significantly, after deciding the debt was undervalued: the court reasoned that the Dutch bankruptcy Aurelius was pushing for was part of a strategy to effect a “double dip” recovery against Oi’s assets.

In Re Ocean Rig UWE – Another for the SDNY bankruptcy court and Judge Glenn: the first time a US bankruptcy court has issued a recognition decision for a company, in this case offshore drilling group Ocean Rig, that deliberately shifted its centre of main interests (COMI) to a new jurisdiction – in this case the Cayman Islands – for “good faith reasons”. The recognition process faced repeated challenges, but was upheld on appeal in a US district court by Judge John Koeltl in April 2018.

In re Zetta Jet Pte Ltd and others – in the Singapore High Court Justice Aedit Abdullah denied full recognition to the US Chapter 7 trustee of bankrupt luxury private jet operator Zetta Jet in the first reported recognition action in Singapore since its adoption of the UNCITRAL Model Law on Cross-Border Insolvency. The court found the trustee’s appointment contravened the public policy exception in the Model Law, because it followed a Singaporean injunction enjoining foreign proceedings – but partially recognised the US trustee to allow him to apply to set the injunction aside.