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Restructuring, Insolvency & Distressed Investments

Strategic legal advice on all matters involving insolvency, restructuring and crisis management

Recognised experts in restructuring, insolvency & distressed investments

In times of financial uncertainty and unstable markets, companies, financial institutions and their shareholders come to us for our understanding of distressed debt, the sale of distressed assets and the restructuring of transactions and businesses. We can support you in out-of-court restructurings in order to minimise risks and maximise returns and as a creditor represent you in and out of court in relation to bankruptcy administrators, judicial liquidators, debtors and competing creditors.

You can depend on us for sensitive bankruptcy filings and restructuring issues aimed at minimising the likelihood of future legal challenges or the triggering of personal liability. We also craft solutions that mitigate the risk of successful challenges to your transaction during the applicable preference periods or set asides under avoidance rules. Our team members have extensive experience in handling contentious issues arising from restructurings and insolvencies and can advise you across the CEE/SEE region on corporate investigations, enforcement, litigation and white collar crime.

“Large team offering high-quality advice on the full breadth of insolvency and restructuring issues. Well recognised for its strong expertise in large corporate and financial restructurings, including asset liquidation, company voluntary agreements and portfolio sales. Further expertise in enforcement of as well as defence against insolvency-related claims. Regularly mandated by investment firms, banks and corporate creditors, as well as acting for debtors from various industries, including real estate, insurance and automotive. Excellent reputation for working on complex cross-border matters across Europe.”

– Chambers Global

“One interviewee praises the firm’s strength in the CEE market, stating: ‘It is definitely a go-to firm in Austria, they are very eminent and present. Their main strength is the incredible network in the eastern part of Europe, they know everything.'”

Another states: ‘We have a lot of experience working with Wolf Theiss. They are a great partner in these issues, I would definitely recommend them.'”

– Chambers Europe

What makes our team the best restructuring, insolvency & distressed investments lawyers for you?

Our regional, integrated firm offers distinct advantages spanning the full spectrum of legal services.

  • An established international law firm with 60+ years of experience in Austria and CEE/SEE
  • A fully integrated, single team of 340 locally-qualified lawyers in 13 countries and offices
  • Collaboration and innovation across multidisciplinary teams and offices
  • Excellent client satisfaction – responsive, client-oriented, and consistent
  • Experience with complex and cross-border matters covering the full spectrum of legal services

Leading the legal field

Our lawyers are involved in key transactions and matters across the region, bringing their industry expertise and specialised business knowledge to add value to our clients’ work.

Advised major South African retailer during extensive restructuring process

Largest in-court Latin American debt restructuring

Advised clothing company during restructuring and insolvency due to COVID-19 crisis

Full-scope legal services including restructuring, insolvency, debt restructuring and non-performing loans

Major restructuring for South African retailer

Wolf Theiss advised Steinhoff Europe AG, a major South African retailer with operations in Europe, Africa, the United States, and Australia, after it plunged into crisis with debts of approximately EUR 9 billion. In order to stabilise the financial situation and continue operating, Steinhoff had to go through an overall comprehensive restructuring.

Restructuring included asset sales, operations sales, corporate and financial restructuring. We have advised Steinhoff Europe AG and its affiliates on almost all restructuring processes form the very beginning. This deal consisted of a large variety of legal issues – from insolvency law related matters, corporate issues, tax and real estate law issues to finance issues.

We also assisted our client in a multi-million real estate sale. In this project we advised a subsidiary of our client on the sale of the operative companies together with the real estate portfolio in Austria and certain CEE countries (which in fact represent the valuable assets of the group).

Parallel to advising our client on changing their corporate structure, we were also involved in negotiations with regard to their debt refinancing with a syndicate of banks. In total 12 Austrian holding companies were included in the financial restructuring process.

Both transactions required innovative legal solutions, the collaboration of various legal practice groups within and outside our firm, as well as sustained efforts of all lawyers involved in order to successfully restructure the client in a way that would enable new financing and continuation of operations.

Assets and liabilities of the client had to be analysed and newly structured for the CVA to be successfully completed. The restructuring of Austrian debt via English restructuring tool is the first of such kind in Austria and unprecedented to date.

Legal advice following COVID-19 closings

Our team advised Adler Modemärkte on restructuring and corporate law issues due to the significant drop in sales as a result of the corona lockdowns and officially ordered closings of shops.

We provided legal advice covering corporate law, insolvency, financing and tax issues against the background of the uncertainties and impossibility of reliable forecasts due to the COVID 19-crisis and the opening of insolvency proceedings over the German parent company.

Largest Latin American in-court debt restructuring

Deutsche Bank and ING as lenders entered into several credit agreements with an Austrian affiliate of the Odebrecht group, as borrower, granting a loan in the amount of more than USD 150 million. The default risk under the credit agreements was insured by Sinosure. In June 2019, Odebrecht S.A., the grandparent company of the borrower and guarantor under the credit agreements, filed for bankruptcy in Brazil, aiming to restructure BRL 51 billion (USD 13 billion) of debt.

It is considered to be one of Latin America’s largest-ever in-court debt restructuring. In the wake of Odebrecht S.A.’s insolvency, we advised the lenders on their legal options with regard to civil, enforcement and insolvency proceedings to pursue their claims against the borrower in Austria.

We filed the lenders’ application to open insolvency proceedings in Austria and obtained a freezing order from the Commercial Court of Vienna, Austria that prevented the borrower from any disposals of its assets, including its shares in companies in Peru, Spain and on the Cayman Islands. Currently, we are advising and representing the lenders in the ongoing insolvency proceedings in Austria.

The complexity of the case resulted from the involvement of various jurisdictions, which required a strong, cross-border collaboration of all lawyers involved to reach the best possible outcome for the clients. Further complexity was added by the credit insurer’s legal interests in the Austrian insolvency proceedings. Considering the amount of the borrower’s debts, the insolvency proceedings in Austria are among the five largest opened in the year 2020.

Lead counsel in NPL & real estate portfolio sales

Our lawyers advised, as lead Counsel, LynxCap Group in relation to the secondary sale of various NPL and real estate portfolios in Croatia and Slovenia to a Luxembourg securitization vehicle and the issuance of the notes to international investors within the framework of a securitization program.

We advised comprehensively with an integrated, multidisciplinary cross-border team on this ground-breaking transaction for the region. The transfer and aggregation as well as securitisation of NPLs and real estate portfolios originated in the CEE/SEE region face manifold legal impediments requiring out-of-the-box thinking in unchartered territory given the lack of a dedicated legal framework and well-established precedents.

Challenges include the clean transfer of legal and/or economic ownership rights, dealing with third party rights and claims subject to litigation as well as banking secrecy and data protection aspects. From a securitisation perspective, our team had to match the well-established English law securitisation framework and commercial expectations of international investors with the legal restrictions faced in the CEE/SEE jurisdictions involved. This required novel and innovative approaches, e.g., on the taking and administration of collateral as well as the sharing of information among the parties.

What others say about us

“An interviewee notes the firm’s strength in handling cross-border restructuring mandates: ‘We use Wolf Theiss a lot in Austria and CEE, and their network of lawyers is very good. The team did everything we asked for and in a good and responsive way. I can wholeheartedly recommend them.’”

– Chambers Europe

“They are the most skilled firm in this domain in Austria and have a team with an excellent international practice which is very helpful in cross-border insolvencies.”

– The Legal 500

“Technically good and experienced restructuring lawyers – very responsive and very cooperative and very good team players. It was possible for us, having the lead on some parts of the project, to provide the client with seamless cross border service.”

– IFLR1000

“Ability to act quickly in multiple CEE jurisdictions with ‘one stop shop’ policy under supervision of one partner. Pragmatic approach and good value for money.”

– IFLR1000

“Very good cross-border team approach for Austrian/Southeast-European insolvency matters. Single point of entry for various jurisdictions with one responsible lead partner.”

– The Legal 500

Areas of specialisation

Insolvency, de-leveraging & bankruptcy

If you are a creditor we can represent you in domestic and cross-border insolvency proceedings, asset recovery and claims enforcement, as well as in negotiations with bankruptcy administrators or in the acquisition of assets out of insolvency proceedings. We help you in de-leveraging bank assets and advise on bankruptcy filings and restructurings to help minimise future legal challenges and potential liability hazards.

We also address risks stemming from challenges to your transaction, from their characterisation as preferential to their cancellation under avoidance rules. You can also rely on our considerable experience in insolvency-related litigation.

Debt restructuring

You benefit from our long experience in successfully advising clients on complex financial products, financings and restructurings. This allows us to propose solutions best tailored to your commercial needs; allowing you to plan ahead and most effectively manage risk.

We advise you on all manner of debt restructurings and work-outs, including debt re-financing and debt for equity swaps, as well as on the acquisition or sale of distressed debt. Our extensive coverage allows us to handle this seamlessly for you throughout the region.

Non-performing loans

Whether you are on buy-side or sell-side, you can rely on our considerable experience advising on all aspects of non-performing loans in CEE, often working under extremely challenging timeframes and under applicable local laws.

We frequently provide work-out advice and if you are an investor, we can support you in developing new financing concepts and strategies following an NPL acquisition. We also advise you on non-classic solutions such as sell-ons and specific restructurings.

Real estate restructuring

Both healthy and troubled institutions sometimes struggle with their portfolios of non-performing loans and other real estate owned assets (OREO); seeking to identify solutions for effective NPA management and dispositions.

Our specialised Real Estate team can advise you on cross-border real estate restructuring, property financing restructuring, commercial real estate restructuring, real estate work-outs, real estate investment restructuring and the distressed sale and acquisition of real estate. Our advice includes drafting creditor stand-still agreements, assisting with the shut-down of properties as well as with the sale of real estate or leasing portfolios, and the granting and enforcement of securities.

Corporate restructuring

Whether carried out as part of an M&A transaction, due to financial distress or for tax optimisation reasons, our restructuring lawyers can advise you on all legal and tax aspects of company reorganisations and cross-border restructuring of groups. This includes intra-group restructurings by way of mergers, cross-border mergers, cross-border transformation of companies, transfer of intra-group companies, conversions, contributions, de-facto splitting and share capital increases.

We can help you in developing restructuring plans best suited for your business, and in implementing these plans. Our full scope service means that we can cover all related aspects such as finance, real estate, state aid or employment issues. Saving you time and nerves.

Distressed M&A

You benefit from our experience in all types of distressed transactions; from domestic and cross-border group restructurings aimed at reducing the debt burden of companies, to advising debt or equity stakeholders on optimising their legal position in the course of implementing reorganisations and turnarounds.

When it comes to distressed M&A, our corporate and insolvency lawyers work hand in hand with banking and litigation experts to advise you on the acquisition of companies on the brink of insolvency or already in liquidation. This can be tricky, and you need an advisor who recognises the risks and knows how to manage these. Our clients include companies, financial institutions, lenders, alternative debt and equity providers as well as special situation funds.

Crises management

Whether you are in financial distress or face crises such as an administrative or government investigation, a cyber-attack or data leak, the last thing you want is the wrong message in the media making the situation worse.

Our insolvency, restructuring and crisis management experts work together with specialists in crisis PR to ensure the right message goes out. We also help in putting crisis management and communication plans and procedures in place, so that if it comes to the worst, you are well prepared.

Get in touch

Whether you need an international team with extensive experience, Wolf Theiss can support your business goals through our profound legal practice.