The Restructuring Review: Editor's Preface
I am very pleased to present this 14th edition of The Restructuring Review. Our intention is to help general counsel, government agencies and private practice lawyers, as well as other professionals, investors and market participants, understand the prevailing conditions in the global restructuring market in 2021. This edition seeks to highlight some of the more significant legal and commercial developments and trends during this period.
I would like to thank Chris Mallon, the editor of the first 12 editions of this book, and Dominic McCahill, the editor for the 13th edition, for their time and dedication to ensuring the publication of this review on an annual basis. Both have now retired from the partnership at Skadden and I am honoured to continue their work.
The covid-19 pandemic has dominated the global political and economic landscape since it emerged in early 2020 and will continue to do so throughout 2021. The impact of the pandemic has been felt far and wide, from the devastating human costs to the severe impact on the world economy. All countries have faced material consequences from the pandemic and the vast majority have imposed multiple lockdowns and sweeping travel restrictions to help fight the spread of the coronavirus through their populations. At the time of writing, no country has emerged from the pandemic and all countries maintain some level of restrictions on movement and interaction of people to limit virus spread.
The world economy faced extreme challenges in 2020 due to the pandemic. Faced with total losses of revenue at the outset of the pandemic, businesses in many sectors appeared likely to be swept into a tidal wave of insolvencies and liquidations. Many workers lost jobs and the prospect of extreme levels of unemployment appeared imminent. But at least in some significant respect, the blow was softened by financial support to businesses and workers offered by governments and central banks around the world. In fact, government support measures in many cases more than offset (at least temporarily) the damage wrought by the pandemic as many jurisdictions reported year-on-year decreases in restructuring and insolvency activity. Markets around the world continued their pre-pandemic ascents and deal activity hit new record highs, including in an exuberant market for blank cheque acquisition vehicles known as 'SPACs'.
The development of numerous vaccines and the commencement of unprecedented global roll-outs of vaccination programmes has brought hope that brighter days are ahead
in 2021 and 2022. While some have predicted that the world economy will recover rapidly in 2021 and 2022 as vaccine distribution proliferates and countries ease or eliminate pandemic related restrictions, others warn of a rude awakening as new covid-19 variants emerge, government support measures are withdrawn and pandemic-inspired changes to consumer behaviour impact businesses built in a pre-covid world. Only time will tell how quickly the world is able to recover from the pandemic as well as when, and to what extent, the world will return to pre-pandemic life.
In light of all this unprecedented disruption, it is unsurprising that the past year has been an interesting one in the restructuring and insolvency space. Last year, many jurisdictions introduced new laws, rules and practices related to the restructuring and insolvency of troubled businesses. While some of these changes arose specifically in reaction to covid-19, many others were introduced as part of a broader trend of reform of insolvency and restructuring law many years in the making. As can be seen in the following chapters, many of these new laws and reforms have already been used to help businesses in an exceptionally challenging year and no doubt will continue to be used and further developed in the global efforts to recover from the pandemic.
I hope that this edition of The Restructuring Review will continue to serve as a useful guide at a crucial moment in the evolution of restructuring and insolvency law and practice internationally. I would like to extend my gratitude to all the contributors for the support and cooperation they have provided in the preparation of this work, and to our publishers, without whom this would not have been possible.
Peter K Newman
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (UK) LLP