ELFE judicial administration, liquidation options considered

The government is considering two insolvency procedures for debt-laden ELFE (Hellenic Fertilizers and Chemicals), one being judicial administration, the other compulsory liquidation, based on the country’s bankruptcy law.

Both options were mentioned in parliament just days ago by two leading government officials, Deputy Prime Minister Yannis Dragasakis and Minister of State Alekos Flambouraris, but neither of the two offered any further details.

ELFE’s debt of 120 million euros owed to gas utility DEPA is complicating the utility’s privatization plan being pursued by the government and TAIPED, the privatization fund.

If a judicial administration procedure is to be pursued, then one of the troubled company’s creditors will need to take legal action at a Court of First Instance in Kavala, northern Greece, where the firm is headquartered, and request that the producer be placed under judicial administration. DEPA will need to come into the picture here.

If a compulsory liquidation procedure is to be chosen, then an investor that may be interested in taking over the company will need to be found. In this case, ELFE’s creditors, which besides DEPA, include banks, PPC and others, will need to agree on a debt haircut.

Meanwhile, disclosures are abounding as to how Lavrentis Lavrentiadis, a failed businessman who acquired ELFE in 2009, manipulated a variety of associated firms that emerged from 2015 – and were tolerated by the government – to run down the fertilizer and chemicals producer and render it incapable of servicing its mountain of debt.

Details of legal action taken by Alpha Bank against ELFE in 2016 for a 15.1 million-euro loan extended in 2008, with the Greek State as the guarantor, were submitted to parliament for discussion last Friday by the main opposition New Democracy party. ELFE has failed to service this loan.