M.Joh. Friedrich Behrens AG had been struggling for its future for months. Aid from the Economic Structural Fund was applied for early on, and this was even promised. The state of Schleswig-Holstein was also ready to help the manufacturer of wood fastening technology.
In the end it was useless. On Wednesday J.F. Behrens applied for the opening of insolvency proceedings in self-administration. According to the announcement, CEO Tobias Fischer-Zernin decided to take this step because no agreement could be reached on essential contract content in the advanced negotiations with a debt fund on financing.
On Monday evening, Behrens surprisingly announced the failure of the negotiations. That had sounded different in the previous weeks: just two weeks ago it was said that “the internal committees” of the Patrimonium Middle Market Debt Fund had approved a loan of eight million euros.
The fund’s sudden bounce is believed to be due to a bond placement failure in the first week of November. Since no alternative could be found due to the maturity of an old bond on Wednesday, the insolvency was the result.
No insolvency proceedings were filed for the subsidiaries; they continued their operations without restriction. The employees are covered by the insolvency money from the Federal Employment Agency for the next three months.
As part of the self-administration, the group should be restructured, said Fischer-Zernin. “We fought right up to the end for the planned new overall financing to repay the 2015/2020 bond, against the background of current business going well. However, we are now confident that we can financially restructure the group as a whole in this way. “
The court has appointed lawyer Christoph Morgen from the law firm Brinkmann & Partner as provisional trustee. Behrens is also from Restructuring and reorganization expert Tjark Thies from the law firm Reimer Rechtsanwälte advises and supports.
The yield on the Behrens bond due in 2024 and with an interest rate of 6.25 percent had already risen on Monday from just under 14 to more than 100 percent. It is currently 155 percent. The price of the not very liquid share, which had reached an all-time high of EUR 7.209 in 2017, has fallen steadily since then and is currently at 17 cents, close to its all-time low from March of 10 cents.
In the first half of the year, Behrens’ sales fell by almost 12 percent to 54 million euros compared to the same period of the previous year, mainly in April and especially in countries badly affected by the pandemic, such as America and Italy. Even if sales had increased again in June, the net loss had tripled to 1.2 million euros. Despite the recovery, the original plan could be achieved.