According to the curator, Van Hool has opted for ‘silent bankruptcy’: “Restarting the company has been fixed for a long time” (Lier)

According to the curator, Van Hool has opted for ‘silent bankruptcy’: “Restarting the company has been fixed for a long time” (Lier)
According to the curator, Van Hool has opted for ‘silent bankruptcy’: “Restarting the company has been fixed for a long time” (Lier)
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Last Monday, Marc Zwaaneveld, the Dutch co-CEO of Van Hool who wanted to implement a recovery plan for the company, announced that bankruptcy had become inevitable. The reason for this is that the Van Hool family continued to argue about the division of the shares and the inheritance of father familias Bernard van Hool, who founded the company in 1947. Van Hool would run out of money at the end of March, and bankruptcy would actually be filed for this week. Remarkably, the names of the two curators, who must manage the bankruptcy, were announced last week. The Mechelen corporate court has appointed Kris Van den Berghen and Jeroen Pinoy for this purpose.

“The fact that the names of the two curators are already known proves that Van Hool is already bankrupt,” says Bruno Schoenaerts, a curator who has decades of experience in the settlement of bankruptcies. “Here we opted for a ‘silent bankruptcy’. This scenario allows you to prepare a bankruptcy discreetly and without publicity. This approach avoids chaos. In short, you can say that the court has been watching for some time and that the trustees have been working on Van Hool’s case for quite some time. I think the solution is now completely known. The Van Hool staff will know very quickly what the concrete future plan is.”

According to curator Bruno Schoenaerts, who has already completed more than five hundred bankruptcies, a ‘silent bankruptcy’ has been chosen. — © jbs

Crucial role for the banks

“The aim of such a silent bankruptcy is to ensure that the highest possible payment is made to creditors and that employment can be preserved as much as possible,” says Bruno Schoenaerts. “The banks will play a crucial role in how these goals are achieved. According to the most recently published annual accounts, those for 2022, they have a joint long-term claim on Van Hool of 132 million euros. Naturally, they want to recover that money as much as possible. If there are two bids, one of which retains more jobs and the other wants to pay more money, it will actually be the banks that determine which of the two candidates will win the loot. As a rule, banks always demand that the highest bidder win.”

“The fact that the names of the two curators are already known proves that Van Hool is already bankrupt”

Bruno Schoenaerts

Curator

Bruno Schoenaerts has a positive assessment of the future of Van Hool’s successor. “A successful restart is very likely,” he says. “Van Hool is a very attractive company. Prospective acquirers can expand their activities, acquire interesting knowledge and also have enough money. I think the Dutch bus builder VDL, together with its German partner Schmitz Cargobull (which would like to take over Van Hool’s trailers, ed.), the top favorite to sign Van Hool. VDL has made a net profit of more than 200 million euros in 2021 and 2022. Then you can sometimes make a takeover.”

“The workers would now be paid for the entire month of March. There would be enough money to make the settlement at the beginning of April”

Hans Vaneerdewegh

Secretary of the socialist trade union ABVV Metaal

March wages would still be paid

In the meantime, the employees had their last working day for Van Hool on Friday. “Some are angry, others react with resignation or are sad,” says Hans Vaneerdewegh, secretary of the socialist trade union ABVV Metaal. “This is also a difficult period for employees who will soon be able to join an acquirer. If you are forced to move to a new job, you will always miss some of your colleagues. In the case of Van Hool, this means that many people also have to give up part of their family.”

“This is also a difficult period for employees who will soon be able to join a buyer,” says secretary of the socialist trade union ABVV Metaal Hans Vaneerdewegh.

“This is also a difficult period for employees who will soon be able to join a buyer,” says secretary of the socialist trade union ABVV Metaal Hans Vaneerdewegh. — © BELGA

There is one consolation. “The workers would now be paid for the entire month of March. There would be enough money to make the settlement at the beginning of April,” says Hans Vaneerdewegh. Last week there was doubt about this, because co-CEO Marc Zwaaneveld could not provide guarantees for payments in April. Workers usually receive an advance on their wages in the middle of the month. The remainder, approximately two-thirds of the salary, is paid as a ‘settlement’ at the beginning of the following month. “We must now of course first see whether that promise of payment is kept,” says Hans Vaneerdewegh.

The article is in Dutch

Tags: curator Van Hool opted silent bankruptcy Restarting company fixed long time Lier

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