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Business and Personal Objectives in Insolvent Situations

25th June, 2019
Keith Steven

Written ByKeith Steven

Managing Director


07879 555349

He has rescued hundreds of companies and helped many of them turn around using CVA or pre pack. Could he help YOUR company?! Call him now 07833 240747

Keith Steven

Table of Contents

  • Is your Business Insolvent? How to establish your objectives in such circumstances?
  • Personal Objectives
  • Business Objectives

Is your Business Insolvent? How to establish your objectives in such circumstances?

Now that you have established that the business is insolvent or facing insolvency, we believe it is vital to establish just what your business and personal objectives are? Clearly, this process cannot be “all things to all men”, but we have set out here the main objectives for business people, their family, their employees and their creditors. Using the links in the text below will take you to the relevant techniques highlighted. But if you want a general outline first, click here Your Options.

Personal Objectives

Getting rid of the pressure

Look, in our experience, few people set out to run an insolvent business. Because of many different circumstances, the business is under pressure. As a senior part of that business, you are under pressure too. Often this can be because of procrastination – or the failure to make a decision. Often this pressure is much reduced when a decision is taken. Whether the decision is made to close, or to fight on or to drive a rescue and restructuring, there will still be pressures, of a different kind!

Crystallising the position – “Where Are We”?

Related to above. It is important to draw a line in the sand. Even if the decision is to explore all options, compare and discuss and then wait for other pieces of the jigsaw to fall into place – that is a decision. But monitor progress and ensure that together you are achieving the set objectives.

Set out a list of all debts, assets and the good and bad parts of the business. This helps you work out “where you are”. This will be helped by doing a simple cashflow projection – we even provide you a free cashflow model to get this done.

Getting on with your life

Perhaps it is just time to walk away and get on with something else. It is rarely as bleak as you think to close a business – life does go on.

Saving your marriage

The pressures can be very difficult to leave at work. Your spouse may also be part of the business. If so then involve them in the decision making process. They often have an ability to see past the pressure points to the bigger picture. Decide if the business pressure is worth losing your marriage? If it is viable and you are determined, then think of how to improve the day to day effects on your marriage.

Protecting your family

As saving your marriage. Remember a family is much more important than ANY business.

Protecting your health

As saving your marriage, alcoholism, stress-related illness and other problems can be caused by business pressure and failure. Consider yourself carefully. Are you the right person for this job? Is being in business a good idea? Is the business viable?

Learn more about CVA, Administration, Trading Out, or Refinance. If it all seems too much for your health and you cannot change lifestyle to avoid the symptoms of business pressure, then consider closure.

Avoiding personal liability or personal guarantees

This is a perfectly reasonable objective from a human nature perspective. However, be warned that trying to avoid this can lead to problems. Remember the mantra: “maximise creditors interests first”. Of course, you are a creditor or perhaps a contingent creditor, but you are connected to the company and therefore have to (effectively) put all other creditors interests above yours. For example, liquidating a company after paying off the bank overdraft might get rid of a nasty personal guarantee – but this could be a “preference” and a liquidator may seek repayment. Please ask us for free guidance on this by calling 0800 9700539.

Not letting people down

This is an area that affects most people we talk to. But, be honest with your assessment of the business’s viability, decide on an appropriate action and explain the decision. If you are strongly in favour of this course of action and demonstrate leadership to achieve it, this is the best way not to let people down. Failure to act is letting people down.

Business Objectives

Keeping the business alive

It is possible to keep the business alive but only if there is a reasonable prospect of restructuring, attracting more finance or even a sale of the business. If this is a key objective consider a CVA , pre pack Administration, Trading Out, or Refinance. Achieving a sale in the timeframe available may be very difficult and the value of the business may be very low (or nil) but at least this objective may be achieved. In addition, some of the other objectives on this page will be too.

Maximising interests of creditors

By law this should be your main objective. If by continuing to trade, creditors interests are compromised, think about closure. CVL, or administration,. However, if the business is viable and if the meltdown of the assets of the business would lead to a minimal return for creditors then consider rescue and restructure.

Maximising interests of employees

Another very important area. Sometimes a rescue and restructure that costs jobs is more valuable – it saves the other jobs. However, if the business is not viable, the continuation of trade may work against this aim. Employment and insolvency is a very specialist area, you must take advice on this area. Call our experts on 0800 9700539

Maximising your own interests

Consider the personal objectives above.

Crystallising a difficult position

It is sometimes easier not to make a decision for fear of getting it wrong. After all your business is a living, changing, moving thing… BUT we always recommend making a decision and working hard to achieve the outcome. In our experience, the uncertainty that insolvency creates can be very debilitating. You will become less and less effective as a manager and the business will suffer.

Crystallising Liabilities

For example, this could be a long-term lease or contract. Conventionally this could be only be avoided in liquidation. However, speak to our experts with regard to how to crystallise such liabilities, whilst also restructuring the business.

Complying with the law

As you may know, this is a difficult area, obviously, we all have to comply with laws we are aware of. But if you do not know what the fiduciary duties of a director are or what transactions you may or may not undertake when insolvent – how can you comply? Take advice, email us, speak to a commercial lawyer or speak to an IP. Our free advice line is 0800 9700539.

Not letting creditors and customers down

Again, perfectly reasonable and achievable, sometimes a pragmatic approach to this is closure. CVL, Administration. However once again if the company is viable think about the rescue options.

Not letting people down

This is an area that affects most people we talk to. But be honest with your assessment of the business viability, decide on the appropriate action and explain the decision. If you are strongly in favour of this course of action and demonstrate leadership to achieve it, this is the best way not to let people down. Failure to act is not.

Avoiding personal Guarantees

This is a favourite question of directors and or shareholders. If you have signed these documents we cannot take that away. But if the business is VIABLE and by using appropriate techniques you may be able to mitigate, reduce or even pay off the debt thereby reducing the PG’s.

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What Is A Winding Up Petition By HMRC or Other Creditor

A winding up petition is a legal notice put forward to the court by a creditor. The creditor petitions to the court if they are owed more than £750 and it has not been paid for more than 21 days. The application, in effect, asks the court to liquidate the company as they believe the company is insolvent.

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What Is A Winding Up Petition By HMRC or Other Creditor
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Notice of Intention To Appoint Administrators

A notice of intention to appoint administrators is when the company files a document to the court to outline that it intends to go into administration if a solution cannot be found to its immediate financial problems. It can be used as part of the pre-pack administration process as well as used to restructure a failing business to avoid its liquidation.

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Notice of Intention To Appoint Administrators
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What Does Going Into Administration Mean?

Going into administration is when a company becomes insolvent and is put under the control of Licensed Insolvency Practitioners.  The directors and the secured lenders can appoint administrators through a court process in order to protect the company and their position as much as possible. Going Into Administration - A Simple Guide Administration is a very powerful process for gaining control when a company has serious cashflow problems, is insolvent and facing serious threats from creditors. The Court may appoint a licensed insolvency practitioner as administrator. This places a moratorium around the company and stops all legal actions.The administration must have a purpose and the Government encourages the use of company rescue mechanisms after administration. The 3 purposes (or objectives) of Administration Rescuing the company as a going concern. Company rescue as a going concern – this is usually a  company voluntary arrangement. The company enters protective administration and is then restructured before entering into a CVA. The CVA would set out proposals for repayment of debts to secured, preferential and unsecured creditors. When the company has its CVA approved by creditors, then the administration process comes to an end after 28 days. Achieving a better result for the company's creditors This is as a whole than would be likely if the company was to be wound up (liquidation) See the differences between Administration and Liquidation.  This better result is usually obtained by selling the BUSINESS as a going concern to one or more buyers. The company and the debts are “left behind”. The better result may include securing transfer or employees under TUPE, as well as selling goodwill, intellectual property and assets. Controlling and then selling property/debtors. This is called realising assets. Then the administrator makes a distribution to one or more secured or preferential creditors, in order of creditors priority. Usually the business ceases trading and employees are made redundant.Only if the first two options are deemed unattainable, can the administrator use this third option.Under the administration option, it is possible for the company and its directors (or a creditor like the bank) to apply to the court to put the company into administration through a streamlined process.However, the law requires that any finance provider (like a bank or lender), with the appropriate security, is contacted and the aims of the administration be discussed and approved. The finance provider must have a fixed and floating charge (usually under a debenture) and the charge holder will need to give permission for the process to go ahead. Five days clear notice is required.  Be aware, though, that a secured lender can appoint administrators over a company without notice if it thinks its money is at risk.  So communication with the secured lender is essential.  

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What Does Going Into Administration Mean?
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What is Receivership?

in What is …? What is receivership?

Understanding Receivership: Receivership, also known as administrative receivership, is a legally sanctioned procedure where an entity, typically a lender like a bank, appoints a receiver. The primary role of this receiver is to "receive" and liquidate the company's assets, if necessary, to repay the lender. This process is particularly beneficial to creditors as it aids in the recovery of defaulted funds, potentially preventing the company from facing liquidation The introduction of a receivership simplifies the lender's task of securing owed funds in cases of borrower default.Receivership should not be confused with administration and a receiver can only be appointed by a holder of a qualifying floating charge created before September 2003. Changes to this procedure were brought in by The Enterprise Act 2002 which promoted company rescue and saving struggling businesses. Why would a company go into receivership?The company requires finance for its activities and borrows from a bank (or other secured lender). In consideration for providing the loan, the bank requires security. Normally the company will sign a debenture with a fixed and floating charge. This offers the bank security over the assets of the company. If the terms of the agreement are breached or the company does not conform to the bank's wishes, the charge holder can:Appoint investigating accountants to ascertain how secure or not the bank's debt is and determine the best route forward (not always receivership). Demand formal repayment of the loans without notice. Appoint a receiver to administer and receive the company's assets.The receiver has a duty to collect the bank's debts only,they are not generally concerned with the other unsecured creditors or shareholders' exposure.Receivership - A typical appointment Having borrowed against a business plan that has not worked, a company finds that it is suffering cashflow problems. In an effort to survive, the company reports its problems to the bank and the bank asks for more information on the problems the company faces. Struggling with the problems of firefighting, the directors find it difficult to produce the information. Often the accountancy and reporting systems are not robust and a lot of time is needed to work out where the company is going, what the depth of the problems is and the necessary reporting to the bank is delayed.As time goes by, the company's overdraft is constantly at its limit, because monies don't come in fast enough from customers. Clearly this should set alarm bells ringing at the company - it most certainly does at the bank. They call this ceiling borrowing, and take it as a sign that the directors are losing control.  When this happens the bank will review the account and will typically take some or all of the following steps: What the Bank will doThe bank will ask for a reduction in its exposure. It will ask for increased security from the directors or shareholders. Usually this takes the form of personal guarantees to support the security that the company has given through the debenture. It may ask for new capital to be introduced by the shareholders. Problem is though, occasionally, this only has the effect of reducing the bank exposure as the bank takes this cash to reduce the borrowing. It can ask for a new business plan from the directors, along with regular reporting. It may ask for the company to consider receivables finance (factoring) to remove its borrowing and move to a factor. Often the bank's own factoring company. If they are still not satisfied that the directors are in control and if the bank is concerned about its exposure it will ask for investigating accountants (or reporting accountants) to look at the business. Normally this is a large firm of accountants who send an insolvency practitioner (IP) into the business to ascertain:Is the business viable? Is the company stable? Does it have a long term future if the present difficulties can be overcome? Is the bank's exposure sufficiently covered in the event of a failure? In this report the IP calculates what the assets of the business are worth on a going-concern basis and in a forced sale scenario (or closure basis). Investigating accountants often recommend that the bank sticks with the business, but that the bank should limit any further borrowing to the fully secured variety - in other words the directors must secure it personally against property for example. If the IP thinks that the company is in serious risk of failure and that the banks may lose money in that event, he/she will usually recommend to the bank that they appoint a receiver or administrator. Usually the bank (bizarrely) requires the directors to "request the bank to appoint a receiver". This is face-saving, and designed to deflect criticism from the bank to the directors.At Company Rescue, we believe that it is wrong that the insolvency practitioner that carries out the investigation could also be the receiver - We think it is essential that his/her role as investigating accountant is limited to just that. However, fortunately most banks now agree that this is not a good approach. Once they are appointed what is the receiver's role and powers?A receiver will quickly ascertain what the prospects for business are and decide whether to sell some or all of the assets, the business as a whole, or to continue to trade whilst a better deal can be achieved. Because of the rules and case law, he may wish to get rid of the assets and staff as soon as possible. (They will have to adopt employment contracts 14 days after the appointment). They may remove directors and employees without impunity. They ultimately decides the way forward and will (often) not take advice from the directors. They must pay the preferential debts (employees claims for arrears of pay and holiday pay) first from any floating charge collections. If a deal is to be done with directors the receiver must first advertise the business and its assets for sale. They must conform to the tight rules and regulations governing receivership and report to the DBEIS. A receiver must investigate the conduct of the directors of the business and file a report with the DBEIS.Disadvantages of Receivership The company is rarely saved in its existing form. Its assets will be subject to "meltdown" ( most people know that in receivership or liquidation assets are sold at a knock down price), often jobs and economic activity are lost.The directors will typically lose their employment and any monies the company is due to them, and the company may cease to trade. In addition the director's conduct is investigated.From the creditors' perspective, it is unlikely that any unsecured creditors will receive any of their money back and often they lose a valuable customer. Clearly the cost of receivership can be very high and the bank has to underwrite the receiver's costs. Advantages of Receivership The bank can take control where directors have maybe lost control. The receiver also has power to act to save the business quickly. The bank can ensure that its exposure is (at least) not increased and hopefully recover all of its money. For directors, the advantages are that it mitigates the risk of wrongful trading and may crystallise a very difficult position allowing them to get on with their lives.Preferential creditors may see their debts repaid by the receiver.Still got questions? Click here for Receivership FAQs. If there are still unanswered questions contact us by email or call 08009700539.If your business is in trouble and the relationship with the bank is breaking down, we suggest that you look carefully at the guides in this site. Receivership may be an option. Work out the viability of the business - can you trim costs? Work out the problems, set out the position and have a meeting of directors. Decide if the business can continue but needs to be restructured or if just not viable then consider administration or if the company's lenders have a debenture pre-dating 2003 then receivership. These questions and answers will give more detailed background to the Administrative Receivership technique. If you have any further general or specific questions email us or complete the contact form. Q: How does it happen? A: Receivership can happen very quickly once the bank loses faith in the directors. The best policy is to work with the bank and produce a survival plan having taken professional and expert advice. Q: But the bank can't just appoint a receiver can they? A: Yes - read the terms of the debenture closely - you will be surprised how little power you have to prevent it. In truth the bank will generally have exhausted all possible avenues to help to try to preserve the business. If the directors are manifestly not up to the job or will not listen, will not take professional advice, they will lose patience quickly. Q: Can we stop them? A: Not normally. However if you talk to an experienced turnaround practitioner they can often persuade the bank that their involvement will lead to a review of viability followed by a professional recovery plan and the bank will usually give time for this to happen (within strict financial constraints) Q: How can we avoid receivership? A: Follow the guidance on this site. Discuss the problems with your key people. What caused them and how you can get round them. Build a plan for survival. Discuss this clearly with the bank. If in doubt about the correct route speak to a turnaround practitioner or a quality insolvency practitioner who lists rescue and recovery as a specialty. Be warned most are still looking for liquidations and receiverships (undertakers)If the bank wants to put investigating accountants in; wait until you have a built workable plan and then sell this HARD - to the investigating accountant.Above all demonstrate a professional and determined approach to saving a viable business - procrastinate at your peril - the bank will not wait for that silver lining. Q: I have heard that receivership is a rescue procedure - please explain? A: Many insolvency practitioners describe selling the business or its assets to a third party out of receivership as a rescue technique. Although some part of the activity may remain I cannot understand how the loss of almost all creditors' monies, jobs and all shareholders' funds, followed by the liquidation of the company, can be described as a rescue! Q: What happens if the receiver does not get the banks money back in full? A: He/she may rely upon the banks other securities. Obviously if the directors, shareholders or even a third party has signed a personal guarantee to pay money to the bank in the event of a failure to recover its loans, then the receiver pursues this as if it were an asset of the company. The receiver may also look at the possibility of legal actions against the officers of the company or debtors or creditors to recover funds Q: What happens to my personal guarantees in receivership? A: Unless the receiver recovers all loans due the bank after his/her fees (and any payments due to preferential creditors) then your PG will crystallise. In other words the receiver may seek to recover money from you. Q: What happens to the employees? A: This is a complex question that cannot be answered without a great deal of information. If the business is sold in a reasonable time then their employment rights can be continued with the new owners (under TUPE). If the receiver makes them redundant straight away they can claim for payments from the government (subject to a maximum amount). Again this is a complex question - email us if you want more detail.Please call us on 020 7887 2667 (London) or 08009700539 to talk to an expert turnaround advisor if you would like to talk through your company's options.

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What is Receivership?

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