We are interviewing Sébastien Cuvelier, lead M&A partner at the Connor Group.
Restructuring that works – Testimonials from the first event by AIRNA
On the 30th of November, we have participated in the first event organised by the Insolvency and Restructuring Association of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine (AIRNA). The association aims to unite the various actors in the field in order to better collaborate and to sensitise the public to the profession, shedding light on restructuring and its added value in a more informal setting through the organisation of events open to the public.
The beautiful hall at La Grande Poste was full: we tell you all about it!
“Restructuring is not a failure, but rather a chance.” Romain du Plantier, Lawyer – ELAYA Firm and President of the association AIR Nouvelle-Aquitaine, defines crisis as an accelerator of decision-making and an opportunity for change.
In this spirit, we have had the privilege, in three round tables, to listen to the testimonies of the directors of four companies having faced various difficulties, compelling them to undertake restructuring procedures: Sale, Judicial Liquidation, and Internal Takeover.
Optimise the sale of a start-up in difficulty: The Sale prepack
Petitcube, a business created in 2017 by Cyril Valtat, is an E-Commerce site specialised in personalised gifts.
The company experienced a steady growth curve for several years until December 2021, when they observed a decline in revenue following a setback in E-Commerce. Due to changes in data privacy laws, especially in cookie policies, they were no longer able to track their customers' activity, resulting in a significant increase in their CAC from 5 to 14-16€.
Accompanied by Aurélien Morel, court-appointed administrator at ASCAGNE AJ SO, the collective procedure, through an ad-hoc mandate (accelerated sale procedure), began in February 2023 and lasted only 4 months.
According to Cyril Valtat, former CEO of Petitcube, “remaining neutral with the buyers, always promoting the companies values, was challenging,” but “having control over the timing was reassuring, and the accelerated procedure allowed us to efficiently communicate with the team and keeping us all motivated until the end. The process was quite straightforward, and we were well-supported throughout.”
Petitcube was acquired by two different companies in May 2023, including their main competitor, Mieux que des Fleurs.
Judicial liquidation – A tool in the service of recovery
A dual testimony for two stories, certainly different but having undergone the same procedure.
We first learned about the story of ASSEP, a Personal Services association founded in 1997.
Facing major difficulties related to significant cuts in subsidies from the Insertion Association and significant financial burdens for permanent employees (CDIs), the association, deeply rooted in humanistic values, underwent two judicial restructurings on the recommendation of its accountant in August 2022, before ending up in liquidation.
Mrs. Françoise Poirier, Director of ASSEP, recalls, "We were impressed by the empathy of Paul-Antoine Silvestri (Judicial Officer - SCP SILVESTRI & BAUJET Judicial Officers) and his ability to answer all our questions. Thanks to the constant support we received, we managed to protect the employees, which was most important to us."
In the second testimony, Estivel, a company specializing in the rental management of leisure residences, also went through a judicial liquidation procedure due to difficulties arising from the health crisis that began in 2020. Accompanied by Marc Dufranc (Lawyer - AVOCAGIR Law Firm), the Director Lise Maurial shares that the five-month administrative closure resulted in an inability to pay salaries and a significant drop in revenue.
"Toward the end of 2021, we had a cash flow problem and were unable to renew cash notes due to a lack of own funds," recounts Lise Maurial. "The liquidation procedure was a lot of work, and the verification of liabilities is still ongoing, but I was very satisfied that it allowed us to commercialise the season nevertheless and resume an activity that was not dead."
Internal Takeover and presentation of a plan
For the final statement, Guillaume-Olivier Doré and his lawyer Alexis Rapp from VOLT Associés reflect on the takeover of the regional digital media NOUVEL AQUI! PRESSE. The takeover procedure, guided by the court-appointed administrator Antoine Fedry (AJILINK) and Mr. Quentin HARDON (Specialised Investment Banker - Thémis Banque), presented numerous challenges, both due to the complicated status of the journalist employees, press regulations by the CPPAP, and difficulties related to asset acquisition.
"We managed to determine what to do with the assets, and we worked extensively on the business plan during the management of the takeover. The success of the procedure relied on an early turnaround," states Guillaume-Olivier Doré. In response to how he knew if this was the right project, he adds, "I was mainly reassured by the team."
During restructuring procedures, Data Rooms play a central role, allowing for the justification of an open and transparent process and serving as a guarantee that all parties have access to the same information – key elements of any restructuring procedure. As a Data Room provider, DealCockpit is delighted to have been able to contribute to this final roundtable, proving to be a determining factor in accelerating the process.
Through such events, AIRNA, newly established in 2023, aims to highlight the added value of these procedures often misunderstood by the general public. By encouraging exchanges and providing the opportunity to share concrete experiences, it demonstrates the positive impact of the profession, thereby strengthening the efficiency of the sector as a whole.