External administration

Our team is well-versed in all forms of administrations including schemes of arrangement, voluntary administrations, deeds of company arrangement (DOCAs) and liquidations.

We often advise bank and non-bank financial institutions as to the impacts of insolvency events on their securities, and whether steps should be taken to assert rights during the decision period of corporate administration. We collaborate with our Financial Services and Commercial teams in negotiating and implementing new structures and security positions.

Credentials

Complex group administration / liquidation: We were retained to advise the administrators and subsequent liquidators on a range of issues related to the liquidation of 19 separate companies operating caravan parks around Australia. We assisted with an urgent, and successful, application to extend the convening period for the meeting of creditors for six months. We also advised on a variety of different asset sales, as well as analysing contested proofs of debts from ‘investors’ worth more than $8 million. We successfully settled a claim by receivers over title to valuable fittings on the land of one major property which returned funds to the liquidator. We continue to act for the liquidator and have successfully settled a number of significant unfair preference claims against some creditors, already resulting in interim dividends being paid to unsecured creditors.

Cross-border insolvency: We advised the Administrators of a specialist IT personnel placement agency on the urgent sale of the business to a UK entity, during circumstances where sales were few and far between. Our advice included claims against the Office of State Revenue. Advice to the subsequent liquidators on the matter included a successful claim against the Tax Office for unfair preference payments worth in excess of $2 million, which was further complicated by simultaneous actions against the director. The liquidators were then able to pay a very reasonable dividend to unsecured creditors in a matter that started with all the hallmarks of a zero return.

Schemes of Arrangement: We have acted on a number of successful formal Schemes of Arrangement including the most recent; Simavita Holdings Limited [2013] FCA 1274. During the course of the matter, Justice Farrell of the Federal Court described this as “the PhD of Schemes”. Simavita has since successfully listed on both the Toronto and Australian Stock Exchanges.

DOCAs: We have acted on numerous voluntary administrations, giving advice on and drafting the terms of deeds of company arrangement, to facilitate the turnaround of a company - or where that is not possible, a better return to creditors than liquidation. In 2007/2008, DibbsBarker acted for PwC as the voluntary, and subsequent deed, administrators of the Global Food group, a consortium of six companies that supplied food processing and catering equipment to Coles and Woolworths. The voluntary administration involved us settling a large number of complex and contentious issues, in particular dealing with a large number of retention of title creditor claims. We also conducted and settled Supreme Court litigation with Electrolux as a substantial supplier to the group, and obtained court orders for two extensions of the convening period. The voluntary administration resulted in the successful approval of a DOCA, which provided for the pooling of the group’s assets and creditor claims. The deed administration involved several complex challenges, not least of which was the sale of the group’s business when the initial signs of the global financial crisis were emerging. Our insolvency and M&A teams worked together extensively in bringing the administration to a successful conclusion with completion of the DOCA and sale of business.

Freezing orders: We have acted for a number of administrators (as well as corporate clients) who required urgent injunctions against directors or other employees to prevent them from removing assets of the companies and effectively creating a ‘phoenix’ operation. These ‘Freezing Orders’ require a significant amount of work in a very short space of time, and we have been successful on each of our applications for the benefit of the insolvency practitioner and ultimately the creditors.

Contacts
Partner
T +61 2 8233 9584
 
Recent News and Publications
06 Dec 2017
The Privacy Amendment (Notifiable Data Breaches) Act 2017 (Cth) applies to government agencies, private sector organisations with annual turnovers over $3m, and all organisations handling health information or involved in credit reporting.
29 Nov 2017
The newly enacted Treasury Laws Amendment (2017 Enterprise Incentives No.2) Act (Cth) 2017 (Safe Harbour Legislation) is primarily concerned with giving company directors breathing space in circumstances where a restructure is being pursued.