ONCE the biggest construction company in Slovakia, Doprastav has narrowly avoided bankruptcy and now wants to write off as much of its debt as possible within a restructuring process.

Under such a proceeding, a troubled company agrees with its creditors to pay a portion of its debt while it continues doing business. This allows creditors to get back a bigger portion of the money the debtor owes them than in a bankruptcy proceeding. However, since the Doprastav’s trustee has not acknowledged several claims, some creditors might end up seeing little or none of the money that the firm owes them, the Sme daily wrote on August 4.

Doprastav’s creditors have lodged claims totalling nearly €460 million, but the trustee Bankruptcy & Recovery Service only acknowledged about €190 million of that sum at a meeting on July 14, the SITA newswire wrote on August 6. The court should decide on the remaining €270 million. It is expected that Doprastav will pay roughly one third of the acknowledged claims.

The trustee has not acknowledged, for example, a €6.6-million fine imposed on Doprastav by the Antitrust Office (PMÚ) for participating in a highway construction cartel, even though the Supreme Court confirmed it, Sme wrote. The fine was not acknowledged because Doprastav and other companies accused of participating in a highway construction cartel have challenged the fines at the Constitutional Court.

A claim of €140 million by the Polish highway company has also not been acknowledged by the trustee. Doprastav built highways in Poland for the company, but the Poles accused Doprastav of delays and contract violations. The case is currently being handled by the Polish courts.

Yet, if the courts confirm the amount Doprastav owes, it might be too late for the creditors, as the restructuring proceeding could already be over by that time, Sme warns.