Anfechtungs- und haftungsrechtliche Erleichterungen für COVID-19-Finanzierungen in Deutschland

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Latham & Watkins LLPMit außerordentlichem Engagement treibt das Bundesministerium für Justiz und Verbraucherschutz (BMJV) aktuell das Gesetz zur Abmilderung der Folgen der COVID-19-Pandemie im Zivil-, Insolvenz- und Strafverfahrensrecht voran. Weniger als zwei Wochen nach Beginn der weitreichenden Einschränkungen des öffentlichen Lebens und auch der Wirtschaft in Deutschland aufgrund der COVID-19-Pandemie soll es nun verabschiedet werden.

Zentraler Bestandteil des Gesetzes ist die Erleichterung der Aufnahme von Fremdkapital, um auf diese Weise Unternehmen in der aktuellen Situation zu stützen. Hierfür werden

  • Haftungsrisiken bei Kreditvergaben reduziert,
  • insolvenzrechtliche Anfechtungstatbestände in Bezug auf Besicherung und Rückgewähr von Neufinanzierungen temporär pauschal entschärft und
  • Subordinationen von neuen Gesellschafterdarlehen vorübergehend aufgehoben.

Die Regelungen beruhen auf einem engen Abstimmungsprozess des BMJV mit Restrukturierungsexperten, in den wir uns aktiv einbringen.

Die insolvenz- und haftungsrechtlichen Sonderregelungen gehen einher mit einer Aussetzung der Insolvenzantragspflicht für Unternehmen, die im Zuge der COVID-19-Pandemie in eine Zahlungsunfähigkeit oder Überschuldung im insolvenzrechtlichen Sinne geraten sind (vgl. hierzu unseren gesonderten Beitrag „Abhilfe für Geschäftsführer und Vorstände in Zeiten von COVID-19: Aussetzung von Insolvenzantragspflichten und Einschränkung von Haftungsvorschriften“, vom 22. März 2020). Hierdurch soll Zeit gewonnen werden, um die wie vorstehend privilegierten Finanzierungen sowie die Zurverfügungstellung von Mitteln des Bundes und der Länder für die Unternehmen aufsetzen zu können.

Ferner sind vom Gesetzgeber Änderungen in Bezug auf Bestandsfinanzierungen – insbesondere Kündigungsmoratorien – angekündigt. Darauf werden wir zeitnah in einem weiteren Client Alert eingehen

Einschränkung der Lenders‘ Liability

Bei der Vergabe von Sanierungskrediten besteht regelmäßig das Risiko der sog. Lenders‘ Liability, einer Haftung nach §§ 826, 138 BGB, wenn den Kreditgebern vorgeworfen werden kann, dass sie in sittenwidriger Weise zur Absicherung eigener Positionen Kredit gewähren, den Überlebenskampf des Darlehensnehmers dabei nur temporär verlängern und dadurch andere Gläubiger geschädigt haben. Um Haftungsrisiken zu vermeiden, arbeitet die Praxis mit einem komplexen System aus kurzfristiger Brückenfinanzierung, Erstellung eines Sanierungskonzepts nach den Maßstäben der Rechtsprechung des BGH und in Anlehnung an den IDWS6 in Zusammenarbeit mit einem Sanierungsgutachter sowie – nach Vorliegen einer positiven Sanierungsfähigkeitsbestätigung – einer längerfristigen Sanierungsfinanzierung.

Für ein entsprechendes Prozedere verbleibt in der aktuellen wirtschaftlichen Situation aufgrund der COVID-19-Pandemie allerdings keine Zeit. Auch stehen ausreichend Ressourcen für eine so flächendeckende Sanierungsbegutachtung, wie diese sonst notwendig wäre, am Markt aufgrund der großen Anzahl von nun in die Krise geratenden Unternehmen gar nicht zur Verfügung.

Vor diesem Hintergrund erklärt der Gesetzgeber, dass die Kreditgewährung und Besicherung in der gegenwärtigen Situation – unabhängig davon, ob der Darlehensnehmer aktuell zahlungsunfähig oder im insolvenzrechtlichen Sinne überschuldet ist – als nicht sittenwidrig anzusehen ist. Vorausgesetzt wird dabei, dass es sich um neue Kredite handelt, die dem Darlehensnehmer zur Verfügung gestellt werden. Auch Zweifel an der Rechtsverbindlichkeit der vereinbarten Sicherheiten sollen so ausgeräumt werden. Dies gilt jedenfalls dann, wenn der Darlehensnehmer nicht bereits zu einem früheren Stichtag, voraussichtlich wird auf den 31. Dezember 2019 abgestellt werden, zahlungsunfähig oder überschuldet war.

Privilegierungen bei der Besicherung und Rückgewähr von COVID-19-Finanzierungen

Ein weiterer wichtiger Schritt zur Ermöglichung schneller Kreditvergaben ist, Anfechtungsrisiken für Kreditgeber zu reduzieren. Bisher müssen Kreditgeber unter Umständen befürchten, dass – sofern die Rettungsbemühungen ohne Erfolg blieben und es doch zur Insolvenz kommt – sie zur Rückgewähr der zwischenzeitlich vom Krisenunternehmen auf den Kredit erbrachten Leistungen verpflichtet wären oder nicht mehr auf die vom Krisenunternehmen dafür bestellten Sicherheiten zugreifen dürfen. Zur Reduktion dieser Risiken werden in Krisensituationen auch in solchen Fällen sonst Sanierungsgutachten erstellt, wofür in der COVID-19-Pandemie wie ausgeführt keine Gelegenheit besteht. Für Kredite, die bis zum 30. September 2020 gewährt werden, soll daher nun

  • die Rückgewähr bis zum 30. September 2023 und
  • die Bestellung von Sicherheiten

nicht als gläubigerbenachteiligend gelten. Hiermit wird einer Anfechtbarkeit dieser Rechtshandlungen temporär der Boden entzogen und mehr Rechtssicherheit für Neukreditgeber geschaffen. Voraussetzung ist auch hier, dass der Darlehensnehmer nicht schon vor dem Auftreten der COVID-19-Pandemie in Deutschland insolvent war.

Die Privilegierungen sollen jegliche Arten von Finanzierungsmaßnahmen erfassen, also nicht nur klassische Barkredite, sondern auch Warenkredite und andere Formen der Leistungserbringung auf Ziel. Einbezogen werden sowohl Tilgungszahlungen als auch die Zahlung von Zinsen auf die Kredite.

Gleichzeitig ist zu betonen, dass die Privilegierungen nach dem Willen des Gesetzgebers nicht für bestehende Finanzierungen ohne zusätzliche Liquiditätseffekte gelten. Dies betrifft insbesondere die bloße Novation oder Prolongation und wirtschaftlich ähnliche Handlungen, die etwa auf ein Hin- und Herzahlen hinauslaufen.

Privilegierungen in Bezug auf COVID-19-Finanzierungen durch Gesellschafter

Auch für Gesellschafter werden erhebliche Anreize geschaffen, weitere Liquidität zur Verfügung zu stellen. Hierfür sind vor allem zwei Maßnahmen im Hinblick auf bis zum 30. September 2020 neu gewährte Gesellschafterdarlehen vorgesehen:

  • die anfechtungsrechtliche Privilegierung auch von Gesellschafterdarlehen und
  • die Aussetzung des Nachrangs von Gesellschafterdarlehen in der Insolvenz.

So soll auch die Rückgewähr von neuen Gesellschafterdarlehen bis zum 30. September 2023 grundsätzlich nicht als gläubigerbenachteiligend gelten, wenn die Gesellschafterdarlehen nun in einem Zeitfenster bis zum 30. September 2020 gewährt werden. Von dieser Privilegierung nicht umfasst ist allerdings die Bestellung von Sicherheiten zugunsten des Gesellschafters. Insoweit bleibt es bei einer gewissen anfechtungsrechtliche Abstufung zwischen Gesellschaftern und Drittfinanzierern.

Ferner sollen die Regelungen zur nachrangigen Befriedigung von Gesellschafterdarlehen in der Insolvenz (§ 39 Abs. 1 Nr. 5 InsO) auf während des Aussetzungszeitraums neu gewährte Gesellschafterdarlehen und Forderungen aus wirtschaftlich vergleichbaren Handlungen in Insolvenzverfahren, die bis zum 30. September 2023 beantragt werden, keine Anwendung finden. Vertragliche Rangrücktritte, die in klassischen Finanzierungen von Gesellschaftern oftmals auch für künftige Gesellschafterdarlehen vereinbart werden, bleiben allerdings grundsätzlich zu beachten. Durch die gesetzliche Gleichstellung von Gesellschafterdarlehen mit einfachen Insolvenzgläubigern wird auch hier mit einem althergebrachten insolvenzrechtlichen Grundsatz gebrochen, der selbst international unter dem Stichwort Equitable Subordination weit verbreitet ist, um Anreize für eine Ausweitung der Finanzierung in Zeiten der COVID-19-Pandemie in Deutschland zu schaffen.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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