Statement of Insolvency Practice 16 (E&W)
Pre-Packaged Sales in Administrations
The term ‘pre-packaged sale’ refers to an arrangement under which the sale of all or part of a company’s business or assets is negotiated with a purchaser prior to the appointment of an administrator and the administrator effects the sale immediately on, or shortly after, appointment.
The particular nature of an insolvency practitioner’s position in these circumstances renders transparency in all dealings of primary importance. Administration is a collective insolvency proceeding - creditors and other interested parties should be confident that the insolvency practitioner has acted professionally and with objectivity; failure to demonstrate this clearly may bring the insolvency practitioner and the profession into disrepute.
An insolvency practitioner should recognise the high level interest the public and the business community have in pre-packaged sales in administration. The insolvency practitioner should assume, and plan for, greater interest in and possible scrutiny of such sales where the directors and/or shareholders of the purchasing entity are the same as, or are connected parties of, the insolvent entity.
It is equally important that the insolvency practitioner acts and is seen to be acting in the interests of the company’s creditors as a whole and is able to demonstrate this.
An insolvency practitioner should differentiate clearly the roles that are associated with an administration that involves a pre-packaged sale, that is, the provision of advice to the company before any formal appointment and the functions and responsibilities of the administrator following appointment. The roles are to be explained to the directors and the creditors. For the purposes of this Statement of Insolvency Practice only, the role of "insolvency practitioner" is to be read as relating to the advisory engagement that an insolvency practitioner or their firm and or/any associates may have with a company in the period prior to the company entering administration. The role of "administrator" is to be read as the formal appointment as administrator after the company has entered administration. An insolvency practitioner should recognise that a different insolvency practitioner may be the eventual administrator.
The administrator should provide creditors with sufficient information ("the SIP 16 statement") such that a reasonable and informed third party would conclude that the pre-packaged sale was appropriate and that the administrator has acted with due regard for the creditors’ interests. In a connected party transaction the level of detail may need to be greater.
KEY COMPLIANCE STANDARDS
An insolvency practitioner should be clear about the nature and extent of the role of advisor in the pre-appointment period. When instructed to advise the company or companies in a group, the insolvency practitioner should make it clear that the role is not to advise the directors or any parties connected with the purchaser, who should be encouraged to take independent advice. This is particularly important if there is a possibility that the directors may acquire an interest in the business or assets in a pre-packaged sale.
An insolvency practitioner should bear in mind the duties and obligations which are owed to creditors in the pre-appointment period. The insolvency practitioner should recognise the potential liability which may attach to any person who is party to a decision that causes a company to incur credit and who knows that there is no good reason to believe it will be repaid. Such liability is not restricted to the directors.
The insolvency practitioner should ensure that any connected party considering a pre- packaged purchase is aware of their ability to approach the pre-pack pool (see appendix) and the potential for enhanced stakeholder confidence from the connected party approaching the pre-pack pool and preparing a viability statement for the purchasing entity.
An insolvency practitioner should keep a detailed record of the reasoning behind both the decision to undertake a pre-packaged sale and all alternatives considered.
The insolvency practitioner should advise the company that any valuations obtained should be carried out by appropriate independent valuers and/or advisors, carrying adequate professional indemnity insurance for the valuation performed.
If the administrator relies on a valuation or advice other than by an appropriate independent valuer and/or advisor with adequate professional indemnity insurance this should be disclosed and with the reason for doing so and the reasons that the administrator was satisfied with the valuation, explained.
Marketing a business is an important element in ensuring that the best available consideration is obtained for it in the interests of the company’s creditors as a whole, and will be a key factor in providing reassurance to creditors. The insolvency practitioner should advise the company that any marketing should conform to the marketing essentials as set out in the appendix to this Statement of Insolvency Practice.
Where there has been deviation from any of the marketing essentials, the administrator is to explain how a different strategy has delivered the best available outcome.
- When considering the manner of disposal of the business or assets the administrator should be able to demonstrate that the duties of an administrator under the legislation have been met.
An administrator should provide creditors with a detailed narrative explanation and justification (the SIP 16 statement) of why a pre-packaged sale was undertaken and all alternatives considered, to demonstrate that the administrator has acted with due regard for their interests. The information disclosure requirements in the appendix should be included in the SIP 16 statement unless there are exceptional circumstances, in which case the administrator should explain why the information has not been provided. In any sale involving a connected party, it is very unlikely that commercial confidentiality alone would outweigh the need for creditors to be provided with this information.
The explanation of the pre-packaged sale in the SIP 16 Statement should be provided with the first notification to creditors and in any event within seven calendar days of the transaction. If the administrator has been unable to meet this requirement, the administrator will provide a reasonable explanation for the delay. The SIP 16 statement should be included in the administrator’s statement of proposals filed at Companies House.
The administrator should recognise that, if creditors have had to wait until, or near, the statutory deadline for the proposals to be issued there may be some confusion on the part of creditors when they do receive them, the sale having been completed sometime before. Accordingly, when a pre-packaged sale has been undertaken, the administrator should seek any requisite approval of the proposals as soon as practicable after appointment and, ideally, the proposals should be sent with the notification of the sale. If the administrator has been unable to meet this requirement the proposals should include an explanation for the delay.
The Insolvency Act 1986 and the Insolvency (Northern Ireland) Order 1989 permits an administrator not to disclose information in certain limited circumstances. This Statement of Insolvency Practice will not restrict the effect of those statutory provisions.
Effective date: This SIP applies to insolvency appointments starting on or after 1 November 2015