On 30 July 2019, the Amsterdam court handed down a ruling allowing the holders of bonds issued by VIEO B.V., parent company of the Lebara group, to acquire the shares in VIEO by way of enforcement of a share pledge on the shares in VIEO.
The Lebara group offers mobile phone services, primarily for expats, in several countries in Europe – in particular The Netherlands, Germany, the UK, France and Denmark. The transaction proposed to, and approved by, the court entailed that in exchange for a conversion of a substantial part of the debt owed by VIEO to the Bondholders, the shares could be transferred to a temporary structure for the benefit of the Bondholders. The day after the court's decision, the VIEO shares were transferred to a Dutch Stichting, and the debt-for-equity conversion was effectuated.
This transfer was an important step in a process whereby the Bondholders had been confronted with a history of technical and other defaults under the bonds, in particular a lack of transparency and financial reporting amid reports of improprieties and self-enrichment of the former shareholders and directors. The shareholders vehemently opposed the enforcement before the court, but the court decided in favour of the Bondholders. The shares and management are now under control of the Bondholders.
NautaDutilh represented the Bondholders as well as the acquiring entity, alongside Kirkland & Ellis (London) and Bahr (Norway).