Spyker Poised to Rev Out of Bankruptcy Protection, but Survival Not Yet Assured

NEW YORK (The Deal) -- It's not quite the rubber-burning return to the road that its founder Victor Muller had been hoping for. But Dutch sports-car maker Spyker (SPYKF) does at least have a chance of emerging from payment moratorium, the local equivalent of Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, after a majority of its creditors voted to accept a very close haircut.

Spyker, which applied for voluntary financial restructuring last year, is proposing to pay each creditor the first €12,000 ($13,681) of what it owes plus just 10% of the remainder.

For the biggest creditors -- the largest of which is reportedly a U.K. unit of the now-defunct Saab Automobile, and is owed €24.9 million -- the payment is not going to fill any holes in their balance sheets. Nevertheless, Dutch media reported on Thursday, May 14, that most had accepted the offer, on the advice of the court-appointed administrator, Henk Pasman, of law firm Wijn & Stael Advokaten.

The alternative would be for the company to be pushed into bankruptcy, leaving creditors without a penny. The District Court of Lelystad is scheduled to decide on Friday, May 22, on whether to allow the debt settlement plan to go ahead, allowing the company to emerge from payment moratorium.

The alternative would likely be the bankruptcy from which Spyker only narrowly escaped earlier this year, when an earlier court ruling declaring the business bankrupt was overturned on appeal, following the company's announcement that it had received some long-awaited bridging finance.

Whether Muller's claim that the company will then be in a position "forthwith" to restart plans to go back into production remains to be seen. When the bankruptcy was overturned in late January, Muller said in a statement that the plans included the "introduction of the Spyker B6 Venator, our entry-level luxury sports car, which will give a larger audience access to the Spyker brand, and the merger with a U.S.-based manufacturer of high performance electric aircraft."

He said the electric aircraft used "exciting new sustainable and disruptive technologies" which would "find their way into full electric Spyker cars in the foreseeable future." But he did not name the merger partner and the appeal court was reported mainly to have based its decision on his achievement in putting together just €4.3 million to pay the company's most urgent debts.

The judge reportedly said at the time that he did not foresee any renewal of production at Spyker's factory at Zeewolde, the Netherlands, and that no funds were likely to be generated to cover ongoing costs.

Spyker's troubles began in the wake of the 2011 bankruptcy of its then-subsidiary Saab Automobile of Sweden. (That company has since become National Electric Vehicle Sweden and is itself in the process of debt restructuring). Spyker's shares were expelled from the main board of the Amsterdam exchange and allocated to the so-called special listing segment (aptly described in Dutch as the "punishment bench").

After two years of unsuccessful attempts to return to the main board, the shares were delisted in September 2013, effectively destroying any remaining value in the stock. The company warned at the time that any meaningful trading off-market would be unlikely.

No one at the company or at Wijn & Stael was available on Thursday for comment because of a public holiday in the Netherlands.

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