American actor Bruce Willis is probably best known as the all-action hero in the Die Hard films, fighting evil-doers against all the odds.
But in France, Willis looks to be a new shareholder in French vodka maker Belvedere, maker of Poland’s Sobieski vodka. Earlier this year Willis signed a multi-year deal to promote Sobieski.
Like Willis, Belvedere is no stranger to battles, having been through a two-year-long court fight with its bondholders. The bondholders — many of whom are hedge funds — want to be repaid and would accept a forced sale of the company to get their cash back. Belvedere disagrees and has proposed a debt restructuring plan that would see them paid back over years.
Mediating between the battling groups are the French commercial courts, who must interpret recently introduced ‘sauvegarde’ rules.
Lawyers say the economic crisis means courts are sympathetic to the French companies and often refuse to support lenders seeking to take control of struggling businesses’ assets. Read here for more details.