Deed of Company Arrangement: What Does It Mean for Your Business?

Sep 8, 2023 | Advisory

In the realm of corporate finance, the Deed of Company Arrangement (DOCA) can be viewed as a potential lifeline for companies on the edge of financial difficulties.

In this article, we help you to understand what a DOCA entails, it’s significance, and the benefits it can offer to you and your business.

Understanding the Deed of Company Arrangement

team meeting

Navigating the intricacies of corporate finance often leads businesses to explore various avenues for recovery and restructuring. One such avenue is the Deed of Company Arrangement (DOCA).

Defining the essence of a DOCA

A Deed of Company Arrangement is not simply a piece of paper or a legal formality. It’s a commitment, a promise, and a strategic plan rolled into one.

  • The nature of the agreement:
    • A DOCA represents a mutual understanding between a company and its creditors. It’s a pledge outlining how the company intends to settle its obligations and navigate its way out of financial turbulence.
    • A structured roadmap: Beyond the immediate financial commitments, a DOCA provides a structured path for the company’s future, ensuring it has a clear direction moving forward.

The multifaceted benefits of a DOCA

While the primary objective of a DOCA is clear, its benefits extend far beyond simply financial restructuring.

  • Preserving the company’s legacy:
    • Beyond finances: A DOCA is also about preserving the company’s legacy, its workforce, its brand, and its place in the industry.
    • By providing a structured plan, a DOCA offers companies a chance to rejuvenate, rebrand, and rebuild from a position of strength.
  • A win for all stakeholders:
    • For creditors, a DOCA often presents a more favourable scenario than liquidation. It ensures they receive a fair share, if not all, of what they’re owed.
    • Every company’s financial situation is unique, as is every DOCA. This inherent flexibility allows stakeholders to craft solutions tailored to specific challenges, ensuring adaptability in the face of changing circumstances.

A Typical DOCA

Business agreement

While each DOCA is tailored to the specific needs of a company, there are common elements forming its backbone.

  • Commitments from the company:
    • Financial restructuring: This could involve measures like debt consolidation, asset liquidation, or even seeking fresh investments.
    • Operational changes: Beyond finances, a DOCA might also outline changes in the company’s operations, be it downsizing, diversifying, or entering new markets.
  • Rights and roles of the creditors:
    • Defining the terms: Creditors might agree to various terms, from deferring debt repayments to converting debt into equity, all aimed at ensuring the company’s survival and repayment of all, or some, of the outstanding debt.
    • Oversight and monitoring: To ensure the company sticks to the DOCA, creditors often play an active role in monitoring its progress, ensuring transparency and adherence to the agreed terms.

The Timeline and Duration of a DOCA

businessman holding papers hands

A DOCA is not an indefinite agreement. It’s a time-bound commitment, ensuring all parties have clarity on the way forward.

  • Setting the duration:
    • Short-term vs. long-term: Depending on the company’s situation, a DOCA could be a short-term fix or a long-term restructuring plan. The duration is clearly defined, ensuring all stakeholders are on the same page.
  • Milestones and reviews:
    • Throughout its duration, a DOCA will have periodic reviews and milestones to gauge its effectiveness and make necessary adjustments.

Establishing a DOCA

businessman leader

The processes required to establish a DOCA, include:

Voluntary Administration.

A DOCA is one of the possible outcomes of Voluntary Administration. Before the idea of a DOCA can even be entertained, a company must first confront its financial realities.

  • Acknowledging the challenge:
    • Facing the facts: The first step towards recovery is admitting there’s a problem. Companies must recognise their financial distress and be willing to seek external help.
    • Seeking protection: Entering voluntary administration provides a company with a protective shield, allowing it to regroup and strategise without the immediate threat of legal actions from creditors.
  • Bringing expertise on board:
    • An independent administrator, an expert in corporate recovery, is appointed to steer the ship.
    • Objective assessment: The administrator investigates the company’s financials, operations, and market dynamics, providing an unbiased assessment of the situation.

The administrator’s proposal
With a clear understanding of the company’s financial position, processes and management structure, the administrator then charts the course forward.

  • Analysing the landscape:
    • This involves a meticulous review of the company’s assets, liabilities, cash flows, and future projections.
    • The administrator also gauges the interests and positions of various stakeholders, from secured creditors to employees.
  • Drafting the deed:
    • Based on the analysis, the administrator crafts the DOCA proposal, detailing how the company plans to settle its obligations and achieve financial stability.
    • The deed is a balance, ensuring it’s fair to all stakeholders and maximises the chances of the company’s survival.

The creditors’ meeting
This meeting is where discussions are held, concerns are aired, and decisions are made. Crucially, the creditors may reject or accept the DOCA.

  • Convening the stakeholders:
    • Creditors are convened for a meeting where they get to discuss, debate, and decide on the proposal.
    • Before the vote, the administrator presents the findings, the proposed DOCA, and also highlights potential alternatives, ensuring creditors make an informed decision.
  • Casting the vote:
    • For the DOCA to be approved, it requires acceptance from a majority of creditors, both in terms of number and the value of debt.
    • If approved, the journey towards recovery begins in earnest. If rejected, alternative paths, including liquidation, might be explored.

Delivering the DOCA

With the DOCA approved, it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to work.

  • Collaborative effort:
    • The company, creditors, and administrator collaborate to ensure the terms of the DOCA are adhered to.
    • The administrator plays a crucial role in overseeing the implementation, ensuring compliance, and making necessary adjustments based on evolving circumstances.
  • Achieving milestones:
    • These could include immediate measures like asset sales, cost-cutting, or securing additional financing.
    • The ultimate goal is the company’s recovery and sustainable growth. Achieving this might require strategic shifts, market repositioning, or even diversification.

Why opt for a DOCA?

What makes a Deed of company arrangement such a preferred choice for businesses in distress?

Preserving the intangible assets

While tangible assets like machinery, real estate, and inventory are crucial, a company’s true essence often lies in its intangible assets. A DOCA recognises this and seeks to protect these invaluable assets.

  • Brand value and loyalty:
    • A brand is a promise, a trust built over the years with customers. Financial distress can tarnish this trust, but a DOCA aims to preserve and even enhance this brand value.
    • In today’s competitive market, customer loyalty is gold. A well-executed DOCA ensures this loyalty is not eroded during the recovery process.

A balanced approach
A DOCA is a comprehensive tool aiming to balance the interests of all involved parties.

  • Equitable treatment:
    • Unlike some recovery tools prioritising one creditor over another, a DOCA ensures all creditors, big or small, are treated fairly.
    • Employees, often the backbone of a company, are also considered in a DOCA. Their wages, benefits, and job security are often prioritised, ensuring the company’s human capital remains intact.

Reputation management
Financial distress can lead to negative publicity, but a DOCA offers a discreet and structured way to navigate these challenges.

  • Minimising negative press:
    • A DOCA provides a structured platform for communication, ensuring stakeholders receive accurate and timely information, and reducing the chances of rumours and misinformation.
    • By opting for a DOCA, a company sends a strong message to its stakeholders – it’s committed to recovery and is taking proactive steps. This can go a long way in rebuilding trust and confidence.
  • Brand protection:
    • A DOCA often allows the company to continue its operations, ensuring its brand remains visible and relevant in the market.
    • In some cases, the transparency and proactive approach of a DOCA can even be a competitive advantage, showcasing the company’s commitment to its stakeholders and its resilience in the face of adversity.

Trust in Corporate Lifeline’s expertise
In the world of corporate finance and restructuring, expertise isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity. At Corporate Lifeline, our team can help you.

  • Decades of hands-on experience:
    • Over the years, Corporate Lifeline has steered numerous companies through turbulent waters, each with its unique set of challenges. This vast experience ensures they’re equipped to handle any situation
    • Their track record speaks volumes. Time and again, they’ve crafted successful strategies, turning potential failures into stories of resurgence.
  • Bespoke solutions for unique challenges:
    • Corporate Lifeline recognises every company’s financial situation is distinct. They pride themselves on crafting solutions tailored to these unique challenges.
    • Drawing from a vast pool of knowledge and experience, Corporate Lifeline consistently comes up with innovative solutions, often thinking outside the box to ensure the best outcomes.
  • A holistic approach with a focus on stakeholders:
    • In the world of corporate finance, there are multiple stakeholders, each with their own interests and concerns. Corporate Lifeline excels in crafting strategies to strike a balance, ensuring all voices are heard.
    • Corporate Lifeline believes in building lasting relationships with its clients, guiding them through their corporate journey, and ensuring sustained success.

FIND OUT
HOW WE CAN HELP YOU!

Download our FREE guide to resolving your financial difficulties and return to normal, successful trading.

SPEAK TO AN EXPERT TODAY

If you find yourself in a situation where you need financial advice for your business, let us help you.