Interserve fixes date for rescue plan showdown

Aaron Morby 6 months ago
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The stand-off between Interserve’s lenders and shareholders is set to come to a head at a specially convened general meeting in two weeks time.

Shareholders will be asked to vote on the board’s latest updated rescue plan hammered out with major lenders. This will see shareholders now left with a 5% stake rather than 2.5% stake as first proposed last month.

The plan to vote on the revised rescue deal on 15 March will trump another general meeting set just yesterday for the 26 March at the request of rebel US hedge fund and shareholder Coltrane Asset Management.

It had planned to vote against the original rescue deal and has demanded the entire board step down, except for chief executive Debbie White.

Coltrane, which owns a 27% stake in Interserve, had tabled alternative outline proposals, which would see 65% of Interserve’s equity handed to lenders in exchange for £436m of debt. A proposed £75m rights issue would take up 25% stake, leaving existing shareholders owning 10%.

In a new twist following this, Interserve and its lenders have now improved the terms of the original resecure plan, upping existing shareholders’ stake from 2.5% to 5% in the hope it will win backing.

Today the board also rejected Coltrane’s proposals as not being fully worked up.

Commenting on the sweetened rescue plan, Debbie White, CEO of Interserve, said: “The agreement of deleveraging plan terms with our lenders, bonding providers and pension trustee represents a significant milestone for Interserve.

“Implementation of the deleveraging plan is in the best interest of all our stakeholders. The plan provides new liquidity and creates a strong balance sheet, which, alongside our Fit-for-Growth programme, will provide us with a competitive financial structure to continue to improve the business and deliver on our long term strategy.”

Under the terms of this deal key lenders, including RBS, HSBC and BNP Paribas, would release £110m to fund working cash and take £435m new equity in the group through a 19 new shares for one existing share deal.

In the event of failure to pass a plan lenders are reported to have placed Ernst & Young on alert to step in to manage the business if it was forced into administration.

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