Another episode in the saga of Belgian FNG‘s bankruptcy: its administrators now try to secure an acquisition fee for Swedish e-commerce platform Ellos, or – failing that – the cancellation of the sale.
Ellos broke camel’s back
In an attempt to secure more money for FNG’s creditors, which are still owed some 350 million euros, the administrators have taken another look at Nordic Capital‘s acquisition of Ellos for the symbolic sum of one euro. Quick reminder: in 2019, Belgian fashion group FNG was still hugely ambitious and it bought Ellos from Nordic Capital for the princely sum of 229 million euros in order to secure further geographical expansion.
However, this proved to be the acquisition too many for FNG, and the bubble burst in 2020, resulting in the collapse of the fashion empire. Because of a complex structure using a lot of different subsidiaries, the only company really left in FNG’s shell after the bankruptcy was Ellos. Rather than waiting in line with the other creditors, Nordic Capital made sure that it gained full control over Ellos again, a move enabled by the fact that FNG had never fully paid Nordic for its Swedish acquisition.
Surcharge or cancellation
FNG and Nordic Capital agreed that the former was to pay the latter 100 million euros for Ellos. This obviously never happened due to FNG’s financial problems, but when the Belgian group finally collapsed, it returned the Swedish webshop to its former owner for one symbolic euro, as a compensation for the unpaid debt. It is precisely this deal that curator Geert Van Deyck is now protesting against, Belgian newspaper De Tijd reports.
The administrators hope to make sure that a larger sum of money can be passed onto the creditors, who are still owed 350 million euros (of which more than half is still owed to the banks). However, the timing is a bit off for such a case as the whole sector of e-commerce is suffering from a downturn after the surge during the pandemic. Ellos saw its sales stagnate and its profit margin drop from 14.3 % in 2019 to just 2.1 % now. How much the administrators still can earn extra from the sale, therefore remains to be seen…