New bankruptcy laws to focus on balance

Many Russian companies are facing financial difficulties, and are looking to restructure debts. Proposed changes to the country's bankruptcy law could mean further support for struggling businesses.

By some estimates, Russian companies could be in debt by as much as $200 billion so far this year. The country's current law on bankruptcy has gone through several amendments since its adoption in 2002. The latest of those were made earlier this summer, and new additions are planned for August. Evgeny Rashchevky, Advocate at Egorov Puginsky Afanasiev & Partners, believes the proposals could bring about improvements for debtors and creditors.

"It would provide more opportunities for protection. At the same time, it would be more transparent. Of course, it's always a challenge of the legislature to create a balance between the debtors and the creditors."

The aim of the changes is to provide a legal tool for debtors and creditors to cooperate and work with transparent restructuring measures – transforming the grim outlook faced by companies that file for bankruptcy under current rules according to Varvara Knutova, Senior Attorney at Pepelyaev Goltsblat & Partners.

"So very often, almost always, if bankruptcy proceedings are initiated against a company, it means sooner or later all property will be sold at auction and the company will be liquidated."

Aleksandr Erofeev, Head of the restructuring group at KPMG, believes the proposed changes need to facilitate a common understanding about the way forward to debt burdened companies.

"Both lenders and borrowers are in the same boat basically, and the concern value of most large companies is higher than value in liquidation. So the lenders are ready for constructive solutions in most cases. And I think the role of government here is to facilitate those processes."

The government's role in refinancing oversight for companies is crucial. The question now is which companies should get state assistance and what concessions they will have to make in getting it.