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Van Hool crisis manager working to prevent bankruptcy and restart bus builder in Lier

Van Hool’s crisis manager, Marc Zwaaneveld, has stated that he will continue to work in line with the transformation plan, regardless of its form. This means that he will not be submitting the company’s books to court today, which could have resulted in a declaration of bankruptcy. The deadline for this decision is March 31st.

Despite Zwaaneveld’s efforts, bankruptcy seems inevitable due to Van Hool’s high debt burden. The company is in need of fresh capital to avoid this outcome, but finding investors willing to provide the necessary funds has proven challenging. Additionally, a family dispute within the Van Hool family over shares further complicates the situation.

With the deadline approaching, the family must present a solution by 12 o’clock today. If no resolution is reached, Van Hool’s board of directors will consider the family’s response on Monday. Zwaaneveld is already preparing for a plan B, which involves trying to sell Van Hool without its existing debts.

Insolvency specialist Dominique De Marez believes that a transfer under judicial authority is the most likely outcome for Van Hool. This process would involve selling the viable parts of the company without its associated debts, granting protection from creditors for a period of time. Zwaaneveld is actively engaging with potential buyers, including West Flemish entrepreneur Guido Dumarey and Dutch bus builder VDL Bus & Coach.

The financial situation at Van Hool remains dire, with debts totaling around 300 million to banks and the NSSO. Zwaaneveld’s initial transformation plan called for 95 million euros of fresh capital to save the company, but the actual amount needed may be higher. Ultimately, the decision to pursue a guided bankruptcy may result in reduced severance payments for employees and financial losses for various stakeholders.

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By Samantha Jones

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