When the directors of a struggling company decide the time is right to approach an insolvency practitioner for assistance, they should expect to receive completely impartial, expert advice.
However, it can be the case that the administration route is recommended over and above a company voluntary arrangement (CVA), even when this cheaper process, which leaves the company directors in control of the business, could be the better option.
So how do you decide which is the best course of action for your business? Here’s our guide.
Objectives of a CVA vs Administration
A company administration is a formal procedure in which an insolvency practitioner is appointed to act as the administrator and take control of the company with a view to bringing about a recovery. If the business is past the point of recovery, the administrator may choose to sell it as a ‘going concern’ or close the company down.
A CVA is a valuable tool that can preserve the business while generally providing a better return to its creditors than an administration. In a CVA, a business proposes an agreement to repay part or all of the money it owes to its creditors over a fixed period of time. During that time, the directors remain in control of the company and continue to trade.
Impact of a CVA vs Administration
Let’s take a look at how each process will impact the business in a number of key ways:
Administration can affect customer goodwill
An administrator will be reluctant to trade unless they feel it will provide a better return for the creditors. Administrations are subject to a one-year time limit. This can make it difficult to retain the goodwill of suppliers and customers, who may choose to go elsewhere. If the company can be saved, there will be a lot of rebuilding to do.
CVA’s allow a company to continue to trade
Once in place, a CVA allows a company to continue to trade with very little effect on the day-to-day running of the business. As long as the monthly repayments are made, companies will be allowed to retain any profits they make. In many cases, suppliers are happy to continue doing business with a company in a CVA, although they may ask for cash on delivery payments. Companies can also keep key contracts and accreditations which might be difficult to transfer in a new company created through an administration.
Control of the Business in a CVA vs. Administration
Administration Puts an Insolvency Practitioner in Control of the Business
Once appointed, the administrator will be in control of the business. They will decide whether it should be put into a CVA and continue to trade, sold as a going concern or liquidated. Although most administrators will involve company directors in this process, the directors will have very little control over the final decision.
CVA’S Allow Directors to Keep on Trading
A CVA allows the company directors to continue trading and to maintain control of the company. Once the CVA begins, everything will happen within a predetermined period of time and the directors will know exactly when the monthly repayments will need to be made. If the CVA is approved, all creditors entitled to vote, even those that refused the agreement, will be bound by its terms and will not be able to take any action against the company.
Pre-Pack Administration Can Be an Option When Debts are Too Large for a CVA
If the debts are too large to be dealt with by a CVA and you don’t want to lose company assets, equipment, contracts, clients and inventory, a pre-pack sale could be arranged. In the event of a pre-pack, the employee rights and TUPE regulations will have to be considered.
CVA’s Buy Time
A company voluntary arrangement buys the time a company needs to restructure its affairs and put a viable plan for the future in place. This includes allowing the company to reduce the cash-flow burden by terminating employee and supplier contracts if required.
Investigations into Directors’ Conduct
Administration Comes With a Mandatory Investigation
Administrators must undertake an investigation into the conduct of directors in their management and running of the company.
CVA’s Prevent Directorial Investigations
There are no investigations into directors’ conduct.
Tax Liabilities in CVA vs Administration
When administration begins a new tax period is created, which means any tax losses cannot be brought forward to reduce future tax liabilities on gains.
CVA Can Offset Tax Liabilities
If a company entering a CVA has accumulated tax losses, these can be carried forward to offset liabilities arising from future profits.