Van Hool: A Dangerous Decision: Will Bankruptcy Loom for Belgium’s Bus Giant?

Van Hool crisis manager working to prevent bankruptcy and restart bus builder in Lier

Van Hool is facing financial difficulties and the possibility of bankruptcy. Despite the efforts of crisis manager Marc Zwaaneveld, finding investors to provide fresh capital has been challenging. Additionally, a family dispute over shares within the Van Hool family further complicates the situation.

With a deadline of March 31st looming, Zwaaneveld has decided to continue working with the transformation plan, regardless of its form. This means that he will not be going to court today to submit the company’s books, which could have resulted in a declaration of bankruptcy. However, insolvency specialist Dominique De Marez believes that a transfer under judicial authority is the most likely outcome for Van Hool.

This process would involve selling the viable parts of the company without its associated debts and granting protection from creditors for a period of time. Zwaaneveld is actively engaging with potential buyers, including West Flemish entrepreneur Guido Dumarey and Dutch bus builder VDL Bus & Coach. The financial situation at Van Hool remains dire, with debts totaling around 300 million to banks and the NSSO. The decision to pursue a guided bankruptcy may result in reduced severance payments for employees and financial losses for various stakeholders.

As the fate of Van Hool hangs in balance, it is important to consider whether the board of directors has acted in the best interests of employees. The potential impact on the company’s 2,500 employees is significant, and hopes for a successful restart after resolving this crisis are uncertain.

Sophia Reynolds

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