Business Irish

Friday 24 March 2017

Lenders vote to extend Eircom's 'covenant waiver'

COMPANIES

Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

EIRCOM'S lenders have granted an extension to the company's "covenant waiver" that allows it to trade after breaching the conditions on its €3.75bn of debt.

The original waiver was due to expire on December 15, but will now run until January 31 next year, after lenders voted to extend the period.

The waiver was granted by holders of Eircom's secured "first-lien" and "second-lien" senior loans.

It means talks between Eircom management, its owners and lenders to the company can carry on without the risk of the business being forced into a messy liquidation by a lender trying to enforce their security.

Eircom is the subject of increasingly complex restructuring talks.

Its independent directors are currently considering three proposals to restructure the company's debts.

Under all three scenarios, holders of unsecured bonds are facing complete wipe-out of the more than €1bn they are owed.

Proposals

Two of the proposals would also wipe out €350m owed to the second lien lenders, and the third -- from the second-lien lenders themselves -- would see them swap some of the debt for shares in the company.

Eircom is currently owned by Singapore state-owed STT, as majority owner, with an employee share trust known as the ESOT owning one-third of shares.

STT is offering to effectively buy back the business with a €200m rescue investment, and is in talks with the ESOT over a possible joint bid.

Two separate groups of lenders holding top ranked "first lien" loans and slightly less well-secure "second lien" loans have tabled bids -- offering to swap some of what they are owed for shares in the business.

However, the two lender groups are also in talks with each other over making a possible joint bid for control.

The odds are heavily stacked in favour of the top ranked "first-lien" lenders gaining control of Eircom, if they want it, because they will have the deciding vote on which proposal is ultimately adopted by the company.

Irish Independent

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