(l-r) Host, broadcaster Leanne Manas; directors Ntlhane Makena and Gary Oertel, insolvency, business rescue and debt recovery; awards judge Toyah Pfafferott, Afgri (l-r) Host, broadcaster Leanne Manas; directors Ntlhane Makena and Gary Oertel, insolvency, business rescue and debt recovery; awards judge Toyah Pfafferott, Afgri

Finalists: Webber Wentzel/Linklaters (highly commended); White & Case

ENSafrica pocketed the Restructuring Team of the Year award for its work on reducing South African non-food retailer Edcon’s hefty debt load of more than 20bn rand (£1.1bn).

The company’s restructuring needs meant hammering out a deal with lenders in the UK and South Africa, who were owed cash in a variety of currencies (the company also had listed bonds outstanding on the Johannesburg and Irish stock exchanges). The deal was complicated by various inter-creditor arrangements and the rights and interests of more than 20 lenders, as well as South Africa’s currency control regulations.

The firm proposed a deal that was tax efficient and acceptable to the majority of investors, and assisted in negotiations to balance the interests of lenders while at the same time wiping out a significant portion of the company’s debt, to ensure it remained solvent.

That meant dealing with lenders across multiple timezones, all with diverse interests. The deal not only provided Edcon with debt relief on its most expensive borrowings, but it also gave the company access to additional liquidity to steer it away from immediate financial danger.

Led by Clinton von Loggerenberg and Gary Oertel (pictured), the firm was able to bring about a speedy resolution due to its extensive restructuring experience and expertise.