José Alberto López-Torres is one of the partners in the firm GLZ Abogados and its client is one of the multiple creditors to whom Altán Redes, a wholesale operator of services of telecommunications With national scope in Mexico, he owes them money: some 40 million pesos plus interest to his particular client.
This lawyer, specializing in insolvency proceedings and insolvency litigation, hopes that the Federal Institute of Commercial Insolvency Specialists (Ifecom) appoint in a few days the conciliator who will be part of the commercial bankruptcy procedure in which the company is now Gazebo Redes.
That conciliator will then have three days to protest the charge and must immediately publish an extract of the judgment of commercial bankruptcy so that creditors who assume this way present a request for recognition as such, which will then be publicly known in a legal list and with respect to what degree and amount they must first Gazebo pay them what is owed.
Everything regarding who the creditors are, the amounts they claim and how they should be paid, should be known between the last days of December 2021 and the first of January 2022. But meanwhile, José Alberto López-Torres, formerly legal coordinator on Model group and partner in White & Case, S.C. and Grepe, Lavín & Zavaleta, SC, note that Gazebo Redes has been “transparent” with its creditors and has taken a position of openness and listening since it announced its plan to benefit from the figure of the commercial bankruptcy to restructure its liabilities and thus be able to finance the deployments of the so-called Red Compartida of mobile and fixed wireless telecommunications throughout Mexico.
— From the last time you spoke in the press, four months ago, your client will have increased its business volume with Altán, due to the growth of users or brands that in turn that company has announced in recent weeks …
– That’s right, the volume has increased a bit and the business as well. With all this, our intention, that of our represented, is to support Altán. This, because the providers will be able to collect their money with the commercial bankruptcy and they will be able to continue growing their businesses also due to the increasing demand for services made by users. But the most important thing is that Altán can fulfill its mission of providing connectivity. That is why we support the Altán commercial bankruptcy.
In order to continue supporting GazeboWe have been providing other services still and the debt has been increasing relatively little. It is also important to say that as of today we have not determined the corresponding interests. But our services have been provided so that Altán can continue to provide its services and obligations to its own clients.
— Do you, your represented, believe in Altán’s word that he will pay you? Is there a promise from that company to your customer?
– Although there have not yet been any payments, the negotiations have been very intense and always on positive ground. And as the Altán bankruptcy proceeding has progressed, those negotiations have intensified. We trust them.
— What could you tell about Altán’s bankruptcy procedure that somehow impacts your client? What stage are we seeing or what is ahead?
—The sentence declaring the commercial bankruptcy of Gazebo and as soon as Ifecom appoints the conciliator, that conciliator will publish in the Official Gazette of the Federation an extract of the judge’s sentence, in order to initiate the credit recognition procedure.
In that sense, Gazebo It will adhere to all creditors so that they present their request for recognition of credits before the conciliator himself, and for the conciliator to issue a provisional list and subsequently a definitive list and based on this, the bankruptcy judge issues a judgment of recognition and priority of credits. Once the creditors are recognized, the conciliator will elaborate, in conjunction with Gazebo, a proposed payment agreement to creditors. Until the conciliator makes these proposals, we will be able to know what the form and method of payment will be.
In terms of the Commercial Bankruptcy Law, the way in which it must be paid or the mechanism allowed is through a debt relief or waiting for the debt to be paid in certain years. Or a combination of take and wait, that is to say that there is the possibility of a cut of a certain percentage and payable in three, four or five years, depending on what they are going to propose.
Then, it is essential to know what will be the way in which the conciliator proposes and Gazebo recognize the payment to your creditors, in order to finally determine the viability or not of your payment proposal.
— What position would your client take, if suddenly the conciliator and Altán tell him that they will pay him his 40 million pesos in five years, and other creditors hundreds of millions of pesos in less time?
– Once we can jointly analyze this proposal that came to fruition, with the conciliator and with Altán, we will be able to know if it is viable or not, or if the proposal suits our interests or not and then adhere to that payment agreement .
There may still be many options that can be proposed by both the conciliator and Gazebo, which may or may not suit us; We can even object to that agreement and not join it. Everything will depend on the mechanism and the way in which they propose to the creditors their respective payments.
— In the push and pull with Altán and the conciliator, what would be most important in this regard to your client?
– For us, a lot will depend on the feasibility project that allows Gazebo keep running your business and generate income.
The fundamental basis that we need to be able to adhere to that, if applicable, agreement with creditors, is the viability or not of its operation, and that once it is declared out of bankruptcy.
We are convinced by the communications we have had with our own Gazebo, that they are going to draw up an agreement that will be viable both for Gazebo, as for your creditors. So what do we need to accept this? Well, analyze what is proposed by the conciliator himself and the viability or not of the business of Gazebo and together with the bankruptcy agreement proposal itself.
— There are people in Mexico who openly do not like Red Compartida and their attacks are not directed against Altán, so hearing the word commercial bankruptcy is a melody to their ears. What do you think of it?
– For our client it is positive that Gazebo has started bankruptcy proceedings and that does not mean that Gazebo go bankrupt. A commercial bankruptcy is a whole legal mechanism that allows you to restructure your debts, all of which Altán has, with each of your creditors. We see very positive that you want Gazebo restructure their debts, because it is not convenient for anyone, least of all their creators, that they be declared bankrupt, because in a bankruptcy the only thing that results is to sell Altán’s assets and try to pay the creditors as much as possible.
In this figure he adhered to Gazebo It is to restructure its debt and so that Altán continues to provide its services and that it can also give viability to a project that was constituted since the previous administration and that is very ambitious, and we, as Mexicans, must have the interest that it continues, because its purpose is to provide connectivity to most of the Republic. Those negative messages do not help these processes. From our perspective, we are interested in Altán proposing a very viable plan for both them and their creditors and for it to be able to provide the service, which is what Altán was established for.
— You are creditors, but you listen to each other with great confidence that Altán will pay you. Do they trust you so much?
— Gazebo He has been directly facing us. He has not hidden. Every time we had a question about your commercial bankruptcy and until it was finally approved, there was no time that Altán hid or did not get on the phone for any communication. In due course they informed us of the bankruptcy process, since it was started and now that it was approved and that they have just published the declaration of bankruptcy judgment. In this sense, the communications that my client has had directly with Altán have been very positive.
— Like you, apparently, the federal government and in particular President Andrés Manuel López Obrador also pushes support for that company …
– We start from the basis that the Judicial Power is totally independent from the Executive Power. Although it is true, the President has issued various statements in which he states that he supports that Gazebo continue to operate in a formal way, it is totally unrelated to what the president’s intention manifests to what actually happens during the judicial process of the Altán bankruptcy procedure. Why do I say this? Because although it is true that the intention of the president is to support, it may also be the case that during the procedure there are factors that prevent Altán from continuing with its business.
The reality will be reflected during the development of the bankruptcy procedure itself. In this sense, we estimate that it will be a fairly open process, which will allow creditors to have an opinion on the proposed agreement and its viability, and especially if they adhere to that proposed bankruptcy agreement.
— Excuse the crude expression: Can you coordinate with other legal teams to support or throw a lot at Altán Redes?
– In terms of the Bankruptcy Law itself, once the bankruptcy conciliator issues a definitive list, we will find out who Altán’s creditors are, for what amount and which in turn will be approved by the judge. And, in your case, there we will be able to have communications because there is no legal impediment for the lawyers of the other creditors to have communication to talk about the viability of the agreement.
We can even form a group of creditors to support Altán itself in getting ahead with the restructuring. Our intention, that of my client, is to support the company so that it can succeed, because it is not in our interest for it to go bankrupt. Hopefully the other creditors are on the same page.