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Sébastien Binard, a partner at the Luxembourg law firm Arendt & Medernach who works on corporate law, private equity, M&A as well as restructuring and insolvency matters, says the covid-19-related financial crisis is priming the legal profession for virtualisation. It may even be spurring a much-needed update to Luxembourg’s restructuring law.
Mia Drennan, president and founder of the global administrative agency and trustee services firm GLAS Group, says the post-covid-19 financial crisis has caused a rise in rapid, round-the-clock and weekend work on transactions. At first her firm met demand for drawdowns, then emergency funding requests and later for more complex restructurings: GLAS has since battened the hatches for a “long cycle”.
Look Chan Ho of Des Voeux Chambers in Hong Kong tells GRR about two recent judgments recognising Mainland liquidations in Hong Kong, and his hopes that courts in the Mainland will reciprocate. He says local judges are also using an uptick in the number of defaults to increase calls to introduce a provisional liquidation regime.
Kesar Dass B & Associates’ head of insolvency and corporate law, managing partner Sumant Batra in New Delhi, explains why all insolvency stakeholders need to switch gears to focus on the Indian economy as covid-19 lockdowns for labour disrupt industries. He speaks of the challenges that a suspension of India’s new Bankruptcy Code is bringing to its nascent restructuring and insolvency profession.
“Insolvency legislation on its own will not do the trick.” GRR speaks to NautaDutilh partner Robert van Galen in Amsterdam, the Dutch representative to UNCITRAL Working Group V and a past president of INSOL Europe, who says the Netherlands’ new restructuring law will solve some of the problems presented by the covid-19 pandemic, and explains why it's important the European Union remains united through the crisis.
“The first week was like a big storm.” Hélène Bourbouloux, the managing partner and co-founder of French boutique FHB, discusses how the pandemic could lead to the modernisation of France's insolvency regime, how private equity and hedge funds could provide solutions for struggling companies, and why she thinks the European Commission should relax its competition regulations.
"Economic downturns tend to expose companies that have been run fraudulently and in the BVI we tend to see an increase of those cases in the wake of financial shocks". Carey Olsen’s London-based British Virgin Islands partner Richard Brown tells GRR that he expects the fallout from covid-19 to uncover some Ponzi schemes in the coming months.
“It is quite plain that we are not going to go back to anything like where we were two months ago.” Pinsent Masons partner Nick Pike tells GRR why he thinks consumer demand will take years to recover from the covid-19 crisis, how the UK government’s emergency measures have staved off an immediate wave of insolvencies, and why working from home might become the new normal.
“At some point, if they want to start trading again, they are going to need money to rehire their employees and start paying suppliers, and it’s not clear to us how they will get that money”. Slaughter and May’s head of restructuring Ian Johnson and partner Tom Vickers tell GRR about their work advising the UK government on some of its initiatives to deal with the impact of covid-19, the difficulty companies are having trying to access urgent liquidity, and their hopes for the introduction of a new debtor-in-possession financing tool.
“The economic legacy is going to be around the excess debt that companies and governments have taken on… that will take a long, long time to pay off." Ashurst's head of restructuring and special situations, Giles Boothman, tells GRR the UK’s economic standstill is bringing restructuring enquires in waves, as clients find it harder to seek liquidity from financial institutions, perform due diligence and find other solutions to restore balance sheet health.
“While our clients are obviously interested in maximising returns for investors, they are also respectful of the fact that countries like Ecuador have to address the incipient public health crisis that is presented by covid-19.” Quinn Emanuel’s Susheel Kirpalani and Dennis Hranitzky discuss the impact of the covid-19 pandemic on sovereign debt workouts in Argentina and Ecuador, and how the US response to the crisis has been marred by political enmities between federal and state governments.
“It is easy to think that things will never be the same, but history repeats itself.” Co-chair of Debevoise & Plimpton’s restructuring group Natasha Labovitz discusses the limitations stopping some businesses from accessing government relief programs, how Debevoise solicited the advice of an epidemiologist to prepare for covid-19, and why US bankruptcy courts might be some of the most innovative courts in the country.
“I think the long-term effects of covid-19 are not necessarily all bad. The businesses that are not inherently viable may not emerge unscathed.” In the first of a new series investigating how law and advisory firms are dealing with covid-19 and preparing for the longer-term effects, GRR speaks to WongPartnership partner Smitha Menon in Singapore.
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