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Terre Entière judicial review: “No one will be left behind!", according to H. Debbasch

The TO impacted by geopolitical conflicts and the bankruptcy of CIC

The tour operator Terre Entière, known for its cultural trips and humanist approach, was put under judicial review, on Thursday March 12th, 2015, by the Paris Commercial Court. An observation period of two months - until May 12th - is being opened, and should enable creditors to manifest themselves, just like eventual buyers.

Rédigé par Anaïs BORIOS translated by Joséphine Foucher le Mercredi 18 Mars 2015

Terre Entière, known for its cultural and humanist trips was put under judicial review on March 12, 2015 - Screenshot Terre Entière
Terre Entière, known for its cultural and humanist trips was put under judicial review on March 12, 2015 - Screenshot Terre Entière
It is with a shaky voice that Hubert Debbasch, CEO of Terre Entière, agreed to respond to our sollicitation.

On Thursday March 12, 2015, the Paris Commercial Court put his company under judicial review, according to Infogreffe.

“The projections for the 2015 year showed a decrease of 30% of our activity, in order requests, compared to the same date in 2014,” explains Hubert Debbasch. 

On December 2014, he had decided to get closer to other operators, in view of obtaining exterior capital.

Then, on February 2nd 2015, he decided to declare himself in suspension of payments to the Commercial Court of Paris.

“It was not decent to keep going like this, for my 16 employees, and my service providers.

I had to admit this worrying situation, I was well aware that we were not able to survive the year, looking at the strong decrease in our order portfolio.”

The geopolitical conflicts have defeated the TO’s activities

This is not the first “difficult” year for the company.

“The Arab Spring revolutions made us more vulnerable, forcing us to proceed to layoffs in 2012, adds Hubert Debbasch. We still had the necessary resources to keep going without hurting our providers.”

But in October 2012, “a terrible” tragedy, as stated by Terre Entière’s CEO, makes the company tip over. The last minute cancelation of two cruises chartered by Classic International Cruises that costed the operator close to 2 million euros.

“I didn’t find it right for someone else to suffer this disaster in my place. If I had opted for suspension of payments, this disaster, added to the advances paid for the Fall trips would have cost the APST 3.9 million euros.

After the bankruptcy of CIC, I was able to redeem one fourth of the amount by launching a procedure at an international level.”

The 2013 accounts (stopped on December 31st) show a business turnover decreasing by -1.81% to 8.1 million euros and a net loss of - €110 605 for € 436 224 of equity, according to Infogreffe.

The 2014 year, of which the accounts cannot be looked at, also shows a number of hard blows. “The war between Palestinian territories and Israel destroyed all of the production towards the Holy Land for the Summer and Fall, and beyond that, Jordan, Turkey, and Egypt, were also completely affected,” specifies Hubert Debbasch. 

A production that accounts for one third of the TO’s activity. Another impact: the development of a terrorist threat.

APST was informed on the situation

Hubert Debbasch, CEO of Terre Entière - DR
Hubert Debbasch, CEO of Terre Entière - DR
And we know the rest of the story well.

This bankruptcy petition leads to a two month observation period, until next May 12th, during which M. Stéphane Gorrias will act as a judicial representative, and will receive the “statements of outstanding receivables,” as written on

“No one will be left behind, insists Hubert Debbasch. Terre Entière has handled its previous cases with perfect rigor. There is no debt, no bad record.

We will make sure to cover the upcoming departures. In the event of an extreme situation, APST will cover the iota of clients left behind.”

On its part, the Professional Association of Tourism Solidarity (APST), the financial guarantor of Terre Entière, is aware of the situation.

“M. Debbasch has always informed the APST on the situation. His behavior is absolutely irreproachable and he is taking the situation very seriously,” confirms Raoul Nabet, President of the association.

However, in view of the current state of things, APST cannot intervene.

An opened door for buyers

This procedure of judicial review also has to allow eventual buyers to make an offer.

“For me, it’s finished, confides Hubert Debbasch. I’m willing to help in the transition process, I don’t want to run away, but it is obvious that I should no longer be part of the picture because I was unable to have my company survive its transition in a difficult context.

If I get any money back in the event of a legal cession, I will use it to pay back everything that was not taken back, to liquidate properly.

It is very difficult to go through this transition in an impeccable manner.”

The CEO of Terre Entière has spoken to a few potential candidates, of which two seemed serious. Since the news is now public, Hubert Debbasch is expecting new candidates.

“Should my opinion be solicited in this affair, I would opt for a buyer that will formulate the strongest offer, that will take the greater number of employees, and that will privilege the spirit and identity of Terre Entière.

By this, I’m talking about the human, cultural, and spiritual dimension of our trips, and the capacity to give a pluralist offer: pilgrimages in the Christian tradition, and cultural trips with a humanist spirit.”

Militant and humanist trips

Hubert Debbasch certainly has the blues, but he is keeping his head high.

This leader is not fearful, and never hesitates, in the name of his humanist convictions, to open destinations that no one dares to explore. Cultural trips with a geopolitical character.

Under this spirit, in 2009, Terre Entière opened its branch in Irak, Babel Tours.

“A profitable company that developed its outgoing department,” adds Hubert Debbasch. Last year, he handed the company over to Iraqi employees.

More recently, in 2014, during the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, the head of Terre Entière programmed to send clients in Ukraine.

A militant trip, and a political choice, specified Hubert Debbasch at that time. “In this manner, we’re supporting Ukraine in getting closer to Europe, rather than Russia, and we’re participating in the country’s tourism boost, a sector that is much more attractive than its neighbor’s.”

This position reminds that of Maurice Freund, in Africa.

An activism of a lifetime, that comes with risks.

“Terre Entière is known for its capacity to invest in zones where knowledge on managing crisis is mandatory. It is now up to us to show that our company is capable of managing the one that affects us,” concluded Hubert Debbasch. 

This crisis doesn’t mean the liquidation of Terre Entière…Hopefully the right ears are hearing this!

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