In recent years, many companies in Kazakhstan are experiencing shrinking asset valuesand increasing debt burdens. Effectively dealing with these issues requires guidance from lawyers who can assist with debt restructuring, insolvency and funding challenges.
Before insolvency proceedings have been initiated against a Kazakh debtor, a Kazakh borrower will normally seek one or a combination of concessions from lenders, depending mainly on their current and projected cash flows. These may include, for example, temporaryrelief from making payments; a postponement of the maturity date; other changes in the payment schedule;forgiveness of part of the indebtedness; debt for equity swaps; waiver of breaches of covenant; releases from certain financial or other covenants; standstill provisions, i.e., creditors’ agreement not to exercise certain rights or remedies; and provision of additional financing.
The Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan “On Rehabilitation and Bankruptcy” No. 176-V ЗРК dated 7 March 2014 (the “Bankruptcy Law”) provides for the following three insolvency regimes that may be applied to a Kazakh insolvent debtor if out-of-court workout did not work:
1. accelerated rehabilitation;
2. rehabilitation; and
Accelerated rehabilitation and rehabilitation are intended to rescue the debtor. A final liquidation (i.e., bankruptcy) guillotines the debtor.
Accelerated rehabilitation can be initiated by the debtor in the court proceeding provided that no rehabilitation or bankruptcy proceeding has been initiated against the debtor and the debtor is insolvent or will not be able to meet his or her monetary obligations on the due date within the next 12 months. Under the Bankruptcy Law, the debtor is insolvent if one or more of the following conditions are met: a) non-payment under health or life damage obligations, obligations to its employees, social insurance and pension payments, payments under copyright agreements within three months after they became due for the amount of 100 so-called monthly calculated indexes (approximately US$580); b) non-payment under tax and other budget obligations within four months after they became due for the amount of 150 monthly calculated indexes (approximately US$880); c) non-payment by a debtor – legal entity under any other obligations within three months after they became due for the total amount of 1,000 monthly calculated indexes (approximately US$5,900). Upon introduction of accelerated rehabilitation by the court, the following main legal implications arise:
1. the debtor may not use and realise its property except in the course of regular commercial operations, if provided by the rehabilitation plan or upon consent of the affected creditors;
2. a stay of enforcement of court decisions or arbitration awards issued earlier upon claims of affected creditors;
3. the affected creditors cannot file for bankruptcy of the debtor; and
4. withdrawal of money from the debtor’s account and foreclosure of the debtor’s property is prohibited.
Rehabilitation may be initiated in the court proceeding by either the debtor itself or its creditors. The debtor may file for rehabilitation if he or she is either insolvent or unable to meet his or her monetary obligations on the due date within the next 12 months. Creditors may file for rehabilitation if the debtor is insolvent. Unlike accelerated rehabilitation, within a rehabilitation procedure creditors may decide to deprive existing shareholders and pass management over the debtor to a specially appointed rehabilitation manager. The legal implications of the introduction of rehabilitation by the court are generally the same as for the accelerated rehabilitation discussed above.
Bankruptcy may be initiated in the court proceeding by the debtor itself, creditors, the prosecutor, the rehabilitation manager, or if, in the course of rehabilitation, it turns out that rehabilitation is not possible, the state body responsible for tax and other payments to the budget. Upon resolution of the court on the bankruptcy of the debtor, the bankruptcy manager realises the debtor’s property through public auction and satisfies the claims of the creditors included on the register of creditors’ claims in the prescribed by law order of priority (e.g. secured creditors are second in line of priority).
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