19 Sep 2012

Est-ce qu’un plan d’arrangement en vertu de la LCSA peut prévoir un recours en vertu d’une autre loi?

Par Pierre-Luc Beauchesne
Gowling Lafleur Henderson s.e.n.c.r.l., s.r.l.

Dans la décision Yellow Media Inc.
(Arrangement relatif à)
(2012 QCCS 4180), la Cour supérieure devait se
prononcer s’il était possible, dans un plan d’arrangement en vertu de la Loi canadienne sur les sociétés par action
(LCSA), de référer à une procédure en vertu de la Loi sur les arrangements avec les créanciers des compagnies (LACC) dans
l’éventualité où il serait plus approprié de poursuivre le plan d’arrangement
proposé en vertu de la LACC plutôt qu’en vertu de l’article 191 de la
LCSA.  La Cour conclut que l’amendement
proposé ne fait pas partie du processus envisagé en vertu de la LCSA, car il réfère
à une procédure soumise à une autre loi et qui était alors purement
hypothétique.

Les faits

Yellow Media Inc. et ses sociétés liées désiraient amender la résolution
relative à l’arrangement en ajoutant entre autres la clause suivante :

« 5.      Should circumstances permit and if implementation of the
Arrangement under section 192 of the CBCA appears for any reason impracticable
,
the Corporation shall be authorized to seek to implement the Arrangement
under the provisions of the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (the
« CCAA ») and section 191 of the CBCA subject to such conforming
amendments as appear necessary or desirable (the « Alternative Plan »).
  Should the Corporation seek to implement the
Alternative Plan then this resolution shall constitute the consent of the
Debtholders to an order of the Court permitting the following procedure to be
followed under the CCAA in order to permit approval and completion of the
Alternative Plan at the earliest possible time:

(a)               The
Corporation shall post the proposed Alternative Plan (including any proposed
amendments to the Arrangement necessary or desirable to conform to the CCAA) on
its web site and on SEDAR and shall give notice of such posting by way of press
release;

(b)              The
Alternative Plan may be proposed by the Corporation and by such of its
subsidiaries as it deems appropriate;

(c)               The
Meeting to consider and if thought advisable approve the Alternative Plan may
be held seven days following the giving of notice in the manner contemplated by
subparagraph (a) above or at such later date as the Court shall order;

(d)              Proxies
given by Debtholders for the meeting to consider this resolution shall be
applicable to any meeting called by the Court to consider the Alternative Plan
unless revoked or superseded by the grantor; and

(e)    No
further or other notice of the meeting or proceedings to consider the
Alternative Plan need be given. »

Analyse

La Cour rappelle tout d’abord que les présentes procédures sont sujettes
aux règles générales relatives aux amendements contenues aux articles 199 et
suivants du Code de procédure civile
qui prévoit que les parties peuvent en tout temps amender leurs actes de
procédure autant que l’amendement n’est pas inutile, contraire aux intérêts de
la justice ou qu’il n’en résulte pas une demande entièrement nouvelle sans
rapport avec la demande originaire. Le Tribunal conclut que l’amendement proposé
ne respecte pas ces conditions :

« [8] Firstly, YMI acknowledges that the proposed amendment is
not necessary to the pursuance and completion of the arrangement currently in
progress under the CBCA.  In other words,
if the amendment is not allowed to stand, the debtholders will be able to vote
without any difficulty or restraint and either approve or reject the proposed
arrangement. 

[9] Secondly, the proposed amendment may only come into play in the
event it becomes impractical to proceed therewith under the provisions of the
CBCA.  If this happens, the parties and
various stakeholders will find themselves in an entirely new factual and legal
context, subjected to different tests of admissibility and different
procedures.

[10] Nevertheless,YMI wishes then to have the flexibility of
proceeding under the CCAA with an identical plan.  YMI concedes, however, that if there would be
any modification to the current proposed plan, then the suggested procedure
under paragraph 5 of the amended resolution would be useless:  one cannot consent in advance to an unknown
plan of arrangement.

[11] The First and Second Petitioners argue that there are no valid
reasons to impose any deemed consent upon any stakeholder with respect to any
issue which may arise in connection with an Application for an Initial Order
under the CCAA, be it a « fast track » or other similar « pre-packaged »
proceeding.  This argument is not without
merit.

[12] However, any decision touching upon an hypothetical procedure
under another statute (in this instance, the CCAA as opposed to the CBCA) does
not belong to the procedural context of an arrangement under sections 191 and
following of the CBCA.  If YMI wishes, at
any time, to modify its course of action and proceed with an Application under
the CCAA, so be it.  YMI shall then have
to seek and obtain anew any support proxies it may need to implement such plan.  YMI may even negotiate this support
immediately if it so wishes, but it cannot suggest that a consent given in
favour of the CBCA plan will automatically survive its intended use and
eventually apply to an eventual plan of arrangement under the CCAA, thus
forcing the voting stakeholders to be tied to another legal process.

[13] Although this scenario may show certain signs of creativity, or
have some practical or money-saving effects for YMI, it is difficult to follow.

[14] A consent to a CCAA procedure seeking the re-arrangement and/or
restructuring of a debtor company is not to be given lightly and certainly
cannot be implied or presumed.  What may
be consented to today may become unacceptable tomorrow, if the conditions,
timing, circumstances change, not to mention the fact that a consent given to a
specific procedure will never be valid and conclusive unless the contents of
the procedure, and the conclusions sought, are known beforehand.

[15] This is not the case here. 
There is no draft CCAA Motion available upon which the stakeholders may
express their consent.

[16] YMI is trying to « lock up » the agreement of certain
consenting parties to its current proposed plan under the CBCA to an eventual
CCAA arrangement, knowing fully that if the present CBCA Plan cannot
successfully proceed or be completed under the CBCA, or even, if the proposed
plan is rejected by the Debtholders, the next plan (be it under the CBCA or the
CCAA) will most probably, if not certainly, have to be substantially modified in
order to rally enough support.  If, on
the other hand, the plan is ratified but cannot be implemented fully under the
CBCA, its « continuation » under the CCAA would require a different
test of admissibility as well as a different threshold of vote for the approval
of the plan. »

Le texte intégral de la décision se retrouve ici.

 

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