A debt rescheduling agreement was recently reached between Saaten Union Research, a firm specialised in the production and marketing of varieties of hybrid and non-hybrid cereal seed, and its creditors, seed producers, suppliers, and shareholders.
The agreement was approved by the Court of Compiègne in July.
Saaten Union Research was advised on this matter by Jones Day, with a team led by Laurent Assaya, Jacques-Albert Weil and Hugo Cosquer. Deloitte also advised the company.
Agrial was advised by Libraliance, with a team led by Anne-Noëlle Charvillat-Carrez.
Axereal was advised by De Pardieu Brocas Maffei, with Philippe Dubois and Pauline Bournoville.
Soufflet Agriculture was advised by FIDAL Trust, with Bruno Berger-Perrin.
VIVESCIA was advised by Renault Thominette Vignaud & Reeve Jason Reeve.
Advisor Interview – Anne-Noëlle Charvillat-Carrez, Libraliance
Please tell me about your involvement in the deal?
We assisted Agrial, one of the major French agricultural and food cooperatives and a Libraliance long-term client, which we’ve been accompanying on their corporate-finance issues in support of their legal department, in particular in organising Agrial group’s governance and settling partnerships with innovative or RSE companies. In the deal, we used our more than 20-year expertise in corporate-finance and collaborative practice to reach a balanced, respectful and we trust lasting agreement.
Why is this a good deal for all involved?
Parties in this deal are all players in the cereals market, acting either as supplier or as customers.
The deal preserves the coops’ interests, allows Saaten to pursue their activity, and preserves key relationships and business operations between all parties involved. All parties will continue to work together after the settlement is agreed.
What challenges arose? How did you navigate them?
Principal creditors of Saaten were the coops. Approximately 20 coops were involved, with very different debts-sized amounts. Number of parties and size of debt was a challenge, but all coops shared the same goal – prevent draining, costly and timeconsuming court battles, and preserve relationships among themselves and with Saaten with whom long-term responsibilities and connections remain after the dispute is resolved. Establishing each coop’s concern and agreeing on a mutually agreeable option enabled all coops to speak of one voice.
Time constraints and finding an amicable deal satisfying all parties’ concerns was also crucial. Creditors wanted to make sure they would be paid and preserve their priority right on other creditors, while Saaten wanted to reach an amicable agreement swiftly in order to pursue their activity. The settlement agreement was negotiated on a short period of time with milestones.
Operational and financial constraints also arose. The issue was to find a method to verify the agreed ratios that were satisfactory for all. This was solved mutually and privately with active, direct clients’ involvement and namely their operational teams.