Original Research

Investigating the direct costs of business rescue

Nicole V.A. de Abreu, Wesley Rosslyn-Smith
Acta Commercii | Vol 21, No 1 | a903 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ac.v21i1.903 | © 2021 Nicole V.A. de Abreu, Wesley Rosslyn-Smith | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 September 2020 | Published: 16 July 2021

About the author(s)

Nicole V.A. de Abreu, Department of Business Management, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Wesley Rosslyn-Smith, Department of Business Management, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

Orientation: The direct costs associated with business rescue proceedings are essential to the decision-making of directors, business rescue practitioners and other affected parties. Business rescue has come under criticism for being a costly procedure, but what constitutes these costs and how they are defined remain largely unknown.

Research purpose: The aim of this study was to identify and measure the direct costs of business rescue proceedings in South Africa. This research also explored the relationship between direct costs and the following variables: firm size and duration of business rescue proceedings.

Motivation for the study: Despite the significance of understanding reorganisation costs, astonishingly little is know about the size and determinants of the direct costs of business rescue in the South African context. Business rescue practitioners fees and other related expenses have been blamed for worsening business rescue proceedings’ reputation. However, researchers have not yet determined the nature or quantum of such costs.

Research design, approach and method: This study employed an exploratory sequential mixed-method research design. The first phase comprised semi-structured interviews supplemented by a closed card sort with 14 business rescue practitioners. The first phase resulted in direct cost categories and components used to develop a survey instrument. The survey was administered in the second phase and measured the direct costs for 19 South African firms previously under business rescue.

Main findings: The first phase results show that the direct costs of business rescue consist of four categories: the basic remuneration of the business rescue practitioner, contingency fees, professional fee disbursements and general disbursements. Because of the small sample size, the results of the second phase were inconclusive.

Practical/managerial implications: This research contributes to the management body of knowledge by providing business rescue practitioners, the management of distressed companies, and affected parties, especially creditors with a starting point into understanding the direct costs of business rescue proceedings.

Contribution/value-add: This is the first study of its kind, to quantitatively measure the direct costs of business rescue in the South African context. Therefore, the results of the study may offer affected parties some insight and clarity regarding the nature of the direct costs of business rescue.


Keywords

financial distress; insolvency; reorganisation; business rescue; reorganisation costs; direct costs

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