LDB’s alleged bankruptcy: ‘all shall be resolved over next couple weeks’

The situation concerning the proceedings against Bahnoperator Austria and Bahnoperator Polska’s holding company, Lienzer Dolomiten Beteiligungsgesellschaft (LDB) is still shrouded in smoke. This is because contrasting statements are coming from the various parties involved. RailFreight.com contacted all three of LDB’s shareholders as well as the Alpine Creditor Association (AKV), which is handling the process, to try and make sense of this puzzle. Some of LDB’s shareholders firmly believe that everything will be over in a couple of weeks and the company will go back to its normality.

LDB’s shares are held by Nicolai Martin Noeckler (45 per cent), who started the proceedings, Marcel Stein (45 per cent), and Irfan Tulan (10 per cent), as Noeckler pointed out. The one thing all parties seem to agree on is that LDB’s insolvency would not necessarily mean that its subsidiaries Bahnoperator Austria and Bahnoperator Polska would also go down, no matter what the outcome is. “LDB’s subsidiaries are legally independent companies, subject to governing law of their applicable jurisdiction”, Noeckler specified. Moreover, Stein pointed out that, whatever happens with LDB and its subsidiaries, TE Bahnoperator will not be affected. This is because there is no shareholder connection between this company and LDB or its subsidiaries.

Bankruptcy or internal conflict?

The decision to assess LDB’s financial situation and consequently file for restructuring proceedings was Noecklers’. Since then, he underlined, LDB is being represented by him, acting as CEO and General Manager, and Gerhard Serier, a lawyer who was appointed by the Innsbruck court. “Due to unusually high losses of Bahnoperator Austria, an external Auditing & Accounting firm, Rabel & Partner, has been contracted to assess the financial situation and its effects on the holding LDB. My decision to go for external auditing has been made available to all shareholders upfront”. However, Stein pointed out that over the next couple of weeks, he will take over as CEO of LDB and Noeckler will be removed, as they also communicated to all involved lawyers.

On the other hand, Stein and Tulan paint quite a different scenario. Tulan pointed out that “there are hardly any outstanding debts”. Stein added that “this process for the investigation of the bankruptcy of LDB was wrong” and that it all started due to “an internal conflict between the shareholders”. However, Johanna Schumacher, the AKV’s person in charge of the proceedings, is saying that the LDB’s representatives who are claiming that the debts are false never contacted them. “LDB did never contact us directly. They only contacted media and issued a press release”, Schumacher said last week. She added that LDB’s shareholders could have appealed against the opening of the proceedings but did not do so. Schumacher also added that Noeckler had every right to file for bankruptcy since he is the managing director according to the company’s register.

LDB’s alleged insolvency: what has happened so far?

On Monday, 3 July, the Alpine Association of Creditors (AKV) claimed that LDB filed for bankruptcy with liabilities up to 4,5 million euros. The main reason behind the allegedly false bankruptcy application, as AKV specified, was “the massively declining order situation in China-Europe freight traffic”. The drop in volumes for China-Europe trains is a trend that is hitting many companies in the sector, therefore this narrative would make sense. A couple of days later, however, LDB clarified that it was unaware of the application, which was constructed with “company figures that, verifiably, do not correspond to the facts”. LDB added that the application was presented to AKV behind the backs of majority stakeholders “and without the involvement of the company’s tax consultancy”. LDB also claimed that the 4,5 million euros debt mentioned in the bankruptcy file is false.

Nevertheless, a date for the trial has been set on 11 September. Noeckler stated that, up until then, “Due to the significant turnover of LDB’s daughter companies, financial data need to be reviewed and assessed in detail to ensure compliance with applicable legislation. Afterward, it’ll become clear whether this is a restructuring proceeding or if it’ll turn into insolvency”. On the other hand, Stein and Tulan are claiming that they are waiting for “the official clarification by the court administrator” to show the company’s financial health. Tulan pointed out that «we are confident that we can solve the whole topic within the next two or three weeks». This was confirmed by Stein as well, who commented that «we expect to get a statement of the lawyers and official tax office of the LDB» proving that the remediation process will be closed and LDB can return to normal operations.

Autor/a Marco Raimondi

Fuente: RailFreight.com