In the Ministry of Economy, service rescues of companies in distress. Nocturnal and tough negotiations are a routine commando of ten officials.
A simple anonymous corridor that nothing indicates the fourth floor of the building Colbert Bercy. Here, nothing like the usual operation of the Ministry of Economy and Finance. The large meeting room receives more often at night that day and officials are among the select few authorized to take delivery of bottles of water in large quantities. Welcome to the Interministerial Committee for Industrial Restructuring (CIRI), the windows are often lit at night, but that rarely opens its doors. In these walls, attempts, 365 days a year, to put an oxygen mask on companies on the brink of financial strangulation. Last year, 25 companies employing 65,920 workers were “processed” and 14 of them were able to find a solution in the months that followed. This week, the brand ready-to-wear Tati and Financière Turenne Lafayette, owner of William Saurin and Garbit are the burning issues. It takes both hastens to find buyers and calm banks and suppliers who often demand payment “ass of the truck.” Here, since 1982, annually receives about thirty CEOs, often back to the wall. The deadlines have accumulated and cash was reduced to a trickle. The bankruptcy of the spectrum to the commercial court is never far away. In Ciri, they come seeking the help of the state, its ability to put pressure on the banks, Urssaf or the Treasury, and especially the absolute confidentiality. Difficult or impossible to know the names of companies undergoing rescue. Not a folder appears on the desktop of the six rapporteurs, nor on the work table Lionel Corre. This Polytechnique 37 years spent by the agency of the interests of the State (EPA) and the Embassy of France in Tel Aviv, is the secretary general of Ciri, “Here it is more discreet than in court. When we entered, I get the entrepreneur. We face both a little lost and other leaders who are in denial. ”
It also happens that Ciri is entered in an extreme emergency when the life is involved. In November 2016, a few days after the death of Monique Piffaut, CEO of Financière Turenne Lafayette, auditors discreetly call the cell Bercy to the rescue. The company’s accounts reveal a debt of 300 million to 870 million turnovers. Salaries of December are uninsured and suppliers threaten to not deliver, while the year-end holidays arrive.
In a few days and a few nights, Ciri meets bankers, suppliers and other creditors, to initiate, illico a bailout. The state sets the tone with a loan of 12 million euros, history reconstructs a nonexistent cash. The banks, they are urged to move illico 43 million to avoid financial embolism. In general, freeze the payment of social charges and taxes is not the most difficult to obtain. To do this, the Ciri is for cousins, neighbors of some corridors: tax officials. The discussions, which often begin in the early evening rarely happen in an atmosphere bisounours and end only when an agreement is reached. Often in the morning. “It’s hard when you necessarily, around the table, 20 investment funds or family shareholders must hold the positions and records reporters are beaten,” explains Lionel Corre.
The hardest business is often bankers. In these negotiations, each financial institution brings on a little-known department, “Service of Special Affairs.” In charge of difficult cases and broke the long sessions of night negotiations, it must accept or reject a solution that often requires banks’ write-offs. ” In other words, deadweight losses. To wring their arms, Ciri officials, including some from the private, do not go around the bush. “If the negotiations fail, it will happen something more unpleasant,” they threatened. Clearly, the company will then take the bankruptcy of the way with, the key, a possible bankruptcy in which banks and all creditors will not find a Fifrelin. “And then the bankers of Special Affairs know that if it goes wrong, it will go up above,” the secretary general of Ciri. That is to say at the Minister and the big boss of the bank. The other case of the delicate figure is that of the family shareholder who can not afford to continue. The Ciri must accept it by hand. “It got us out of a folder because the entrepreneur did not play the game”, explained Lionel Corre.
Once an agreement is reached, it is approved by the Commercial Court and becomes public. To work towards the restoration of a business, the Ciri, however, has a limited range of means. In addition to the write-offs of lenders and the freezing of tax and social security debts, Bercy can open his checkbook only very sparingly. First, because in Brussels, the European Commission sees a very dim view of public support, then because the state does not appear as a window where companies come looking for a cash coupling. However, there is a budget line for emergency repairs: the Economic and Social Development Fund (FDES). Libération tried to know the number of loans granted and the rate of reimbursement by companies. Two figures “unavailable” replies Bercy.
These bailouts orchestrated by the state are not exempt from criticism. “Remember Heuliez [car manufacturer] and Mory [road haulage]. They extinguished the fire at taxpayer expense, remote media and kills the small fire beast, “protested a specialized manager in the recovery of distressed companies. Both companies have been through the Ciri before disappearing all hands. “I asked his help and he lent me the money I have not refunded. Its true capacity lies in three or four months that he may grant to find a solution, “says the leader broke to go to Bercy. The emergency of Ciri can rescue a victim of bad business going on, not cure a chronic weakness. Gilles Barony, the administrator for several decades, says this: “We can give a hand to a company with a loan of the public bank or investment ESFD but it will not change its fundamentals. A company must first get to balance its revenues and expenditures. ”