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9 May 20223 minute read

DLA Piper wins Restructuring Deal of the Year (Europe) at the IFLR Awards

DLA Piper‘s Restructuring and Special Situations team has won ‘Restructuring Deal of the Year (Europe)‘ at the IFLR Awards 2022 for its work in connection with the restructuring of DeepOcean. The award recognises legal innovation used in cross-border transactions. The winning matter involved an industry-first use of ‘cross-class-cramdown‘ in a Restructuring Plan, and has paved the way for distressed UK businesses to access this powerful benefit of the process.

DLA Piper acted as independent counsel to the boards of the three UK Deep Ocean entities, which utilised only the third such Restructuring Plan in the UK to date. The mandate also involved acting for certain directors in the wider group, including the Dutch Parent company, Deep Ocean Group Holding BV.

The Restructuring Plan is a powerful new tool available in the UK to distressed businesses. The successful sanction proposed by DeepOcean involved the first use of the cross-class cram provisions, the first solvent wind-down plan, and inclusion of the first bar-date compromise for creditors. This decision provides greater clarity going forward for companies and practitioners seeking to implement Restructuring Plans under Part 26A of the Companies Act 2006.

Partners in our Global Restructuring practice supported and guided the three boards through a novel and untested process in key jurisdictions where advice was required, which included:

  • developing the proposals and outcomes for creditors;
  • helping to design the legal architecture of the compromise arrangements that both de-risked the position of the directors and sought to ensure that the Restructuring Plan had the greatest likelihood of being sanctioned by the Court;
  • dealing with a number of complex cross-border directors’ duties issues and creditor challenges, amplified by the relatively untested nature of Restructuring Plans in the UK; and
  • assistance with implementation of the Restructuring Plan.

DLA Piper UK Head of Restructuring, Rob Russell commented: “It was a truly pan-European restructuring deal for DLA Piper, for which we drew on both our deep sector expertise and geographical reach, as well as our significant restructuring and special situations experience. The successful mandate showcases our strong restructuring credentials in the UK, Norway and the Netherlands, and our considerable experience advising on cross-border work-out processes.”  

A testimonial from the DeepOcean Board of Directors read: “DeepOcean’s restructuring was a significant moment for the directors, implementing a financial and operational turnaround achieved in part through the power of the new Restructuring Plan. The team at DLA Piper advising the directors of the DeepOcean entities that proposed the Restructuring Plan (as well as other directors in the wider group) had done their homework and were up-to-speed with all the novel and innovative aspects of this transaction and what this would mean for us as directors. They could see the deal play out from all angles and were switched-on to how this new process could affect the position of the directors and all stakeholders with an interest in the outcome. We felt reassured throughout in the team’s ability to guide and protect us through these unchartered waters – and were confident whenever they ‘went up to bat’ for the directors in what were complex legal and technical negotiations about using the new Restructuring Plan procedure. The restructuring team being thought-leaders in the use of Restructuring Plans provided us with a lot of confidence and reassurance in helping us access this procedure for the benefit of the companies and our creditors.”