With more than 25 years of expertise in corporate restructuring, Philippe Chemouny, a lawyer recognised for his skill in handling collective insolvency proceedings, talks about the strategic issues raised by such proceedings and his commitment to finding constructive solutions.
A highly operational approach, 100% commitment: you seem to have a very precise concept of what restructuring entails.
Philippe Chemouny: Yes, I aim to provide a dynamic and high value-added approach, which necessitates, especially in manufacturing, that one goes to a business’s premises beforehand in order to better understand the environment of a business, its lines of business, its organisational structure, its positioning in the market, and so forth.
This involves “getting your hands dirty” and working alongside directors, in order to operate as a team. It is only on the ground that one can truly understand difficulties and think about appropriate turnaround scenarios. Every business is unique, and each restructuring has a different feel to it.
What is fascinating is trying to wrack one’s brain in order to find solutions and to turn a business around, because you will not always find textbook solutions, even though collective insolvency law remains a vital tool for me.
Do you necessarily need the help of the courts?
Yes, nine times out of ten. A restructuring must take place within a legal framework, the law provides leverage and so the legal solution employed must be tailored by us to suit a business’s situation.
What do collective insolvency proceedings entail?
To keep things short, I would say advance planning and upstream management of strategic suppliers, in order not to compromise continuation of the operations of the business and to enable it to put in place the restructuring measures which will enable it to return to profit.
Is the declaration of insolvency a key factor?
It is indeed, since it is the declaration of insolvency which determines the choice between a safeguard procedure and court-ordered administration.
“What is fascinating is trying to wrack one’s brain in order to find solutions and to turn a business around, because you will not always find textbook solutions”
I often note that directors do not always perceive the difference between the two procedures. Yet it is a significant one, since a business which is subject to a safeguard procedure – even two weeks prior to insolvency – is guaranteed that it will not be the subject of a takeover bid from a competitor. As against that, court-ordered administration can lead to a debtor’s property being seized, if the business continuation plan is not deemed to be viable and if an administrator decides that its assets should be sold off. A difference which will have a major impact and which calls for foresight.