Supplier WKW restructured with Freshfields and Latham


11.05.2022 – 17:15

The automotive supplier WKW Group has successfully completed a financial restructuring. The solution found also includes complex corporate agreements.

WKW is a globally active automotive supplier from North Rhine-Westphalia, which, as a manufacturer of decorative and functional components, serves many car manufacturers in Europe. The company also supplies the US market from two locations. In 2020, the group had a turnover of 473 million euros with around 4,500 employees. However, she recently got into financial difficulties.

Lars Westpfahl

In the restructuring that has now taken place, existing loans and new credit facilities with a total volume of over EUR 200 million have been bundled in a syndicated loan agreement. Measures under corporate law to change the group structure and adjustments to corporate governance, including the transfer of shares from the shareholders to a trustee for the period of restructuring, were further steps.

Banks deliver the fresh money. The consortium consists of Commerzbank, DZ Bank, Deutsche Bank and Stadtsparkasse Wuppertal. The shareholder of WKW is the Wuppertal company Walter Klein, which held around 83 percent of the share capital at the end of 2020. The Gert and Susanna Mayer Foundation is behind the group.

Advisor WKW
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (Hamburg): Dr. Lars Westpfahl (lead management; restructuring), Dr. Peter Versteegen, Dr. Philipp Dohnke (both M&A), Dr. Mario Hüther (banking and finance law; Frankfurt), Dr. Jan-Philip Wilde (Restructuring); Associates: Leon Luserke, Christian Paterlini (both restructuring), Dr. Aljosha Barath (M&A), Dr. Andreas Thümmler, Alexander Bräuer (both banking and finance law; both Frankfurt), Dr. Claus-Peter Knöller, Sebastian Jung, Julia Langner (all tax law; all Frankfurt)

Shareholder Advisor
Oppenhoff & Partner (Cologne): Dr. Stephen Koenig, Dr. Nefail Berjasevic (both corporate law)

consultant banks
Latham & Watkins (Hamburg): Dr. Jörn Kowalewski (lead management; restructuring), Dr. Tobias Klass (tax law), Dirk Kocher (M&A), Dr. Hendrik Hauke ​​(lead management; restructuring); Associates: Jan-Mark Steiner, Anja Hornbostel, Dr. Jan Heuer (all restructuring)

remediation report
PricewaterhouseCoopers (Munich): Thomas Steinberger, Daniel Steiner (both lead)

Advisor trustee
Wellensiek (Frankfurt): Alfred Hagebusch (insolvency law) – known from the market

background: Freshfields began their consultation in the fall, the experienced renovator Westpfahl was apparently approached by the company. The law firm worked to ensure that the cooperation with Latham & Watkins on the banking side, which had already proven its worth in previous restructurings, came about.

Both law firms have already been involved in numerous restructurings in the automotive industry, together, for example, in the large IFA restructuring deal in 2019 and at Benteler 2021. Latham partner Kowalewski also advised the consortium banks on the extensive reorganization of the supplier Borgers.

Shares were held in a temporary management trust through Cornelius Treuhand, an independent trust company of the specialist insolvency law firm Wellensiek. The longstanding Wellensiek partner Hagebusch is one of the specialists for this form of protection. Hülsta had previously worked with Latham partner Kowalewski on such a construction.

In the past, the law firms FPS Fritze Wicke Seelig and Breidenbach und Partner had advised companies in the WKW Group on a joint venture.

The restructuring report comes from PricewaterhouseCoopers, led by the partner Thomas Steinberger, who is considered one of the best-known industry experts for automotive supplier restructurings. The PwC team has been working at WKW since October for the remediation report.

The experienced Cologne-based Oppenhoff partner König knows the Mayer family and came into the mandate through a personal recommendation.

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