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Channel Hotels and Properties, a company registered in the island of Jersey, a British Crown dependency, is seeking 8.221 million euros in debts from the operator of the Kaunas Free Economic Zone, Kauno Laisvosios Ekonomines Zonos Valdymo UAB, and a related company, Kauno LEZ Infrastruktura (Kaunas LEZ Infrastructure).
Kauno laisvoji ekonominė zona (LEZ)
Kauno laisvoji ekonominė zona (LEZ)
© Bendrovės archyvas

The revenue the Kaunas LEZ management and infrastructure companies are receiving or will receive from part of enterprises operating there have been frozen, and attempts to halt the debt recovery through courts have been unsuccessful so far.

In July, Vilnius City District Court rejected the complaint by the Kaunas LEZ operator and Kauno LEZ Infrastruktura over bailiff's actions, and Vilnius and Kaunas regional Courts earlier refused to introduce interim measures in the debt dispute several times.

Based on the bailiff's arrangement, a copy of which BNS Lithuania has, the revenue freeze now applies to revenue the Kaunas LEZ operator and Kauno LEZ Infrastruktura are receiving or should receive from Fitsout, Kopa, Finnfoam, Aibes Didmena, Hella Lithuania and Run Engineering. The companies have been ordered to transfer funds to the bailiff's account. The arrest applies to an amount of 8.627 million euros.

The Kaunas LEZ operator and Kauno LEZ Infrastruktura, their Belgian shareholder Antwerpse Ontwikkelings En Investeringsmaatschappij and the UK's Knightsbridge Property Management signed an agreement with their creditor Channel Hotels and Properties in January, 2018 on the repayment of loans worth 7.228 million euros and agreed interests by the end of September, 2023.

In April 2018, another agreement was signed and the Kaunas LEZ operator and Kauno LEZ Infrastruktura pledged their existing or future revenue of up to 8.896 million euros it receives from part of the LEZ lot subtenants, as collateral to Channel Hotels and Properties.

The Kaunas LEZ operator told Vilnius Regional Court that it only "later turned out" that through this debt agreement "without any financial or other benefits" it took over the loans of Antwerpse Ontwikkelings and Knightsbridge Property Management received from Channel Hotels and Properties, thus significantly impeding its own financial situation and the rights and interests of its other creditors.

The Kaunas LEZ operator turned to Vilnius Court of Commercial Arbitration in December, asking it to annul the January 2018 debt agreement. Meanwhile, the company's creditor, US company Residential Management, later also lodged a request with Kaunas Regional Court to also deem the agreement invalid.

Channel Hotels and Properties told Vilnius Regional Court that the Kaunas LEZ operator could not have been unaware that with the January 2018 agreement, the loans Channel Hotels and Properties had issued to the signatory companies were merged in favor of the final beneficiary G. S.

According to Channel Hotels and Properties, soon after the agreement was signed, the Kaunas LEZ operator started implementing it and paid part of the interests and other made other payments, and only started evading payments in the summer of 2018, thus, forcing Channel Hotels and Properties to lodge a complaint in November and warn the company that Channel Hotels and Properties would use the right to demand the repayment of the whole amount due with interests and other payments immediately.

Antwerpse Ontwikkelings owns 90 percent of the Kaunas LEZ operator, and Euroturtas, owned by foreign natural persons, owns 10 percent. Euroturtas. Antwerpse Ontwikkeling is the sole shareholder of Kauno LEZ Infrastruktura.

BNS
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