20 juli: Commissie beveelt terugvordering steun aan KLIQ


20 juli: Commissie beveelt terugvordering steun aan KLIQ


Brussels, 20 th July 2006

State aid: Commission rejects restructuring aid for Kliq in The Netherlands and orders recovery of €9.25 million

The European Commission has decided under EC Treaty state aid rules to reject plans for €45 million of restructuring aid, which The Netherlands intended to grant to KG Holding N.V. (Kliq). Even though the Commission approved a rescue aid package of €45 million for Kliq in 2003, the company has since gone bankrupt. The Commission concluded that the restructuring plan would not have enabled Kliq to return to profitability, even had the company not gone bankrupt and that bankruptcy would anyway have prevented a successful restructuring. The conditions under which restructuring aid can be granted under the EU state aid rules have thus not been met. In addition, The Netherlands, by order of a Dutch court, have already paid €9.25 million of the aid. Under EU rules, this aid is illegal and incompatible and the Commission therefore orders The Netherlands to recover that aid from Kliq.

Kliq was a Dutch government agency until 2002, after which it was transformed into a company. Kliq specialised in labour reintegration services. By late 2003, Kliq had run into financial difficulties. In December 2003, the Commission approved a rescue aid package of €45 million for Kliq.

After the rescue aid had been granted, the Dutch authorities submitted a restructuring aid plan for Kliq to the Commission in order to make the company viable again. The Commission can approve such aid if all the conditions set out in the EU guidelines for rescue and restructuring aid (see MEMO/04/172) are met. However, the Commission found that since the restructuring plan could not restore Kliq's viability, it could not approve the aid. In the meantime Kliq had been declared bankrupt in 2005 and the restructuring plan has therefore become obsolete.

In 2005, in application of the Dutch bankruptcy law, the competent Dutch Court of Rotterdam ordered the State to convert part of the approved rescue loan into equity, to the tune of €9.25 million. Such a conversion was part of the notified restructuring plan and took place in August 2005. However, since the restructuring plan had not been approved, the partial conversion of the rescue loan in accordance with the national Court's decision must be considered as illegal restructuring aid which is incompatible with the Single Market. The aid granted in the form of the conversion of the €9.25 million rescue loan must therefore be recovered from Kliq.