An Austrian court issued a ruling on June 3 that sees the bankrupt ski manufacturer get another chance to be rescued. The legendary Austrian sporting-goods company and its subsidiaries went into receivership in February after creditors, including a Vienna-based textile supplier, appealed for insolvency procedures at a point when Kneissl was not able or willing to pay for overdue invoices.
The whole story is highly unnecessary since Kneissl is controlled by Sheikh Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber, who stepped in at Kneissl in 2008 and who reportedly has a fortune of some €6 billion. Forbes estimates him at $7.5 billion. Asked whether this figure might be correct, the man from Dschidda, Saudi Arabia said that he could not confirm it, but he was quoted as saying that he was in an even better situation. That is why no-one among the observers understands why he does not pay his bills after various promises from the Sheikh himself that he would take care of the survival of Kneissl.
The court's decision came after the major creditors, including Fritz Unterberger, one of the former shareholders, agreed on a rescue plan on Wednesday. The plan approved by the court foresees that Kneissl can continue under two conditions: First, Al Jaber has to pay more than €2.1 million before June 15 as a necessary cash injection for the three bankrupt companies - Kneissl Holding GmbH, Kneissl Tirol GmbH (sporting goods such as skis, apparel and bicycles) and Kneissl Star Lounge GmbH (retail and restaurants).
The other condition is that Bank Austria agrees to delay its own claims that are not part of the rescue plan, which foresees a partial repayment of the creditors' claims. If Bank Austria does not agree, Kneissl will go into liquidation after the deadline or Stefan Geiler, the receiver, and Andreas Gebauer, managing director, will find buyers for the companies. For Kneissl Tirol, the ski and sports company, the rescue plan foresees a 25 percent ratio on the claims of the creditors. This would mean a payment worth slightly more than €1 million.
Reportedly, Al Jaber stated that he has now the chance to get rid of all of Kneissl's debts. Nobody knows why that did not happen before, and apparently the judge had some doubts when he asked Gebauer whether Al Jaber was serious about what he was saying. The managing director's reply was more diplomatic than substantial. Gebauer stated that the decision on Kneissl's survival is now with the Sheikh and Bank Austria.