The EBRD Legal Transition Team has recently worked closely with the European Commission's DG REFORM on a number of projects in EU member states in the area of insolvency and restructuring.
In early 2020, the EBRD's Legal Transition Programme completed a project, in cooperation with the European Commission (Directorate-General for Structural Reform Support)and country experts Mamic Peric Reberski Rimac Law Firm and KPMG Croatia d.o.o., to strengthen the insolvency practitioner profession in Croatia. The project outcomes included a gap analysis of the existing regulatory system for insolvency practitioners and a number of recommendations on improvement of the system, including in areas related to training and continuing professional development. On the basis of these findings, the team developed a training methodology for insolvency practitioners and delivered legal and financial training to 59 insolvency practitioners and seven trainers for insolvency practitioners on five new topics, including financial and market analysis for financial and operational restructuring plans. These topics have been integrated into the Training Academy's new 2020-2021 training curriculum.
At the request of the Ministry of State Assets, the EBRD Legal Transition Programme, in cooperation with experts KPMG Croatia d.o.o. and Nestor Advisors Ltd. launched a project with European Commission (Directorate-General for Structural Reform Support) aimed at establishing a framework for the preparation and implementation of restructuring plans and financial and operational improvement plans (FOPIP) for State-owned Enterprises (SOEs) in financial difficulty. The project, which completed in early 2020, included recommendations and guidelines for SOEs and the Ministry. The guidelines are supported by practical Excel templates for the relevant government ministries and SOEs and an Early Warning System to alert the stakeholders to the need to take early action and to facilitate monitoring, as well as FOPIP and restructuring dashboards to produce the necessary information for implementation of such plans. An article published on Law in transition 2020 provides some further insights into this project. An article published in EBRD's Law in transition 2020 journal provides some further insights into this project.
The EBRD's Legal Transition Programme launched a technical cooperation Project in 2018 with the Cypriot Ministry of Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism and the European Commission (Directorate-General for Structural Reform Support), in cooperation with experts from EY Cyprus, to strengthen the framework and the capacity of insolvency practitioners, which concluded in 2019. The project addressed the lack of coordination between the three separate regulatory bodies for insolvency and restructuring practitioners in Cyprus and identified areas to be strengthened. This included design and implementation of a training methodology and framework for continuing professional development, as well as the delivery of training to 124 insolvency practitioners and future trainers in the country.
In 2019, the EBRD launched a project with the European Commission (Directorate-General for Structural Reform Support) aimed at strengthening the framework for insolvency practitioners in Greece. This followed earlier Legal Transition Programme's assistance to the Greek authorities in 2015, which resulted in the introduction of Presidential Decree No. 133/2016 and examination and licensing requirements for insolvency practitioners. The experts at Platis - Anastassiadis & Associates Law Partnership and team prepared an assessment of the existing regulatory framework with recommendations for the areas that need to be standardised, coordinated or strengthened. The project also involved drafting specific amendments to primary legislation and a Ministerial Decision on training of the insolvency practitioners to implement the recommendations. Finally, the project laid the foundation for an insolvency practitioner Training Handbook by drafting chapters on Accounting Principles and Corporate Law for training purposes.
In 2019, the EBRD launched a project with with the European Commission (Directorate-General for Structural Reform Support) aimed at improving the legislative framework governing bankruptcy proceedings and restructuring in Hungary. The project was launched to assist the Ministry of Justice in a significant reform of the 1991 Bankruptcy Law and by-laws, including transposition of new EU Directive 2019/1023 on preventive restructuring frameworks. The project was carried out in cooperation with DG REFORM and a team of international and national experts led by CMS Hungary and was completed in late 2020. It is a continuation of earlier work and analysis performed by the Legal Transition Programme for the Hungarian Central Bank on legal, tax and regulatory obstacles to the resolution of non-performing loans.
The EBRD Legal Transition Programme began working with the Ministry of Justice and the European Commission (Directorate-General for Structural Reform Support)in September 2019 on a project aimed at strengthening support for debt restructuring. The team, including representatives of the EBRD Legal Transition Team, the Ministry of Justice, the European Commission's DG REFORM and a team of experts led by PwC Latvia, analysed practical and legislative implementation issues hindering debt restructuring and proposed a number of recommendations in a report to the Ministry of Justice, in line with the EU Directive 2019/1023 on preventive restructuring frameworks, to encourage businesses to restructure their debts at an early stage. As part of the project, the Ministry published Guidelines on how to successfully solve business debt problems and has conducted a webinar presenting the Guidelines. Training activities in debt restructuring and cross-border insolvency were concluded in March 2021.
In 2021 the EBRD, teamed up with the the European Commission (Directorate-General for Structural Reform Support), the Latvian Ministry of Justice and and a team of experts led by PwC Latvia, The team identified a number of key impediments to comprehensive available information sources on managing financial distress for companies, entrepreneurs and consumers. These were: i) the lack of joint strategic coordination in communicating by public authorities and organisations on financial distress issues in Latvia, ii) fragmentation in the information content available to target groups and iii) the use of one-way (asymmetric) communication with the public. The project provided the Latvian Ministry of Justice with a clear roadmap on how to provide more effective guidance to the public (SMEs, entrepreneurs and individuals) on the management of financial distress. For more information please read the press release.
We work regularly on projects funded by other donors or by the EBRD's Special Shareholder Fund.
In 2019 the EBRD Legal Transition Programme began working with the Supreme Judicial Council of Armenia, the International Development Law Organisation (IDLO) and experts from KPMG Armenia on the preparation of an Action Plan for maximising the operational performance of a new specialist Insolvency Court established in December 2018. The Action Plan was finalised in early 2020 and support is ongoing to assist the Insolvency Court with its implementation. The Legal Transition Programme and IDLO have designed an innovative online training programme on international and domestic insolvency law matters for Insolvency Court and higher instance judges, which will be launched in the coming months.
In 2022 the EBRD Legal Transition Programme has successfully completed a project with the Ministry of Justice in Armenia reviewing the insolvency framework and making recommendations for legislative amendments and providing training for insolvency practitioners in cooperation with the Self-Regulatory Organisation (SRO) of insolvency practitioners. Important amendments were introduced in December 2019, which increased the Ministry's regulatory powers. A distance-learning programme for insolvency practitioners was delivered in 2022 and 2021 respectively. As part of the project with the Armenian Ministry of Justice, the EBRD and its team of experts prepared an Armenian Insolvency Guide.
At the request of the Ministry of Justice of Croatia, the EBRD's Legal Transition Programme completed an analysis in 2017 of the Croatian corporate insolvency framework, which will be used to inform the Ministry of Justice's future reform actions and efforts to strengthen insolvency procedures. In parallel, we provided in-depth insolvency training to 170 members of the judiciary.
The Legal Transition Programme completed a technical cooperation project with the Cypriot authorities, which resulted in an Action Plan - approved by the Government of Cyprus in June 2018 - to improve the efficiency of the operations of the Insolvency Service. The Insolvency Service oversees all insolvency procedures, including the licencing and supervision of certain insolvency practitioners. The first phase of the Action Plan, which involves a new organisational structure for the Insolvency Service and the standardisation and modernisation of internal procedures, is in the process of being implemented.
The EBRD's Legal Transition Programme has worked closely with the Hungarian Central Bank since 2014 on addressing the issue of high levels of non-performing loans in the country's banking sector. In 2017 the Central Bank published, with the assistance of the Legal Transition Programme, a recommendation on corporate restructuring and consensual settlement. While technically non-binding, this recommendation has significant regulatory persuasion and is expected to unify and coordinate the approach that creditors take in out-of-court restructurings. Articles in Law in transition 2016 and Law in transition 2017 provide further insights into this project.
The EBRD has been assisting the Agency of the Republic of Kazakhstan for Regulation and Development of the Financial Market and the National Bank of Kazakhstan since 2021 to deliver a comprehensive analysis and road map for the development of a private NPL sales market in Kazakhstan. In September 2022, Kazakhstan introduced a number of legal amendments recommended by the EBRD project team to open up the Kazakh NPL market to investors and to introduce a framework for credit servicers. Currently the EBRD is working on developing a model for an online distressed assets sales platform and new distressed loan and foreclosed asset data templates.
In 2018 the Legal Transition Programme with KPMG and Moravcic Vojnovic i Partneri in cooperation with Schoenherr prepared a report which identified the key impediments to sale of NPLs and proposed solutions for addressing the identified impediments. The report served the working group (consisting of representatives of Ministry of Finance, Serbian Central Bank and other Serbian authorities) to develop a clear strategy for NPL resolution (including proposing amendments to the existing legislation). An article published on Law in transition 2016 provides some insights on this project.
In 2022 the EBRD's Legal Transition Programme in cooperation with a team of national, international legal and financial experts assisted the small and medium enterprises organisation in Turkiye, KOSGEB. The project sought to identify available business data for detection of financial distress of a micro, small or medium-sized enterprise and propose relevant indicators for consideration by KOSGEB when implementing their SME support programmes. The data analysis resulted in four types of indicators: i) standard financial indicators; ii) foreign trade intensity, iii) company age and gender composition; and iv) deterioration in reporting quality. Further SME-related recommendations made by the team included strengthening the insolvency framework and enhancing access to credit. A short note about the project is available here.
The National Bank of Ukraine and the Ministry of Finance requested the EBRD's support in creating of an out-of-court debt restructuring mechanism, aimed at addressing the high rate of non-performing loans in the Ukrainian banking sector. Our collaboration resulted in enactment of the Law on Financial Restructuring in June 2016 and support to its implementation. This support included establishing the institutions created by the Law, building their operational capacities and drafting arbitration rules and Restructuring Guidelines. As of December 2022, 61 procedures were successfully finalised with a total amount of successfully restructured claims at UAH 80,893,452,350 (approximately USD 2.3 billion). The EBRD is co-financing the operations of the financial restructuring Secretariat until July 2023.