Friday 24 May 2019

Shareholder anger over EMPG deal

Joe Brennan

Shareholders in Education Media & Publishing Group have been denied an opportunity to vent their anger at being wiped out by two massive debt restructurings, as the second was completed yesterday without an extraordinary general meeting.

A spokesperson said the Barry O'Callaghan-led company was not required to hold an EGM on a deal that saw 60pc of the group's $6bn-plus (€4.4bn) debt mountain converted into equity. It has also received a $650m cash injection from "a deep, institutionalised investor base", understood to be led by its senior debt holders

"I'm very unhappy with not even being given the chance to have a token say on the transaction," said one shareholder, who had maintained a small holding since 2003. Riverdeep, an education software company, merged with US education publishing giant Houghton Mifflin in 2006 in a $5bn deal. The new entity later acquired US education provider Harcourt for $4bn, leaving it with debts in excess of $7bn. Mr O'Callaghan said it now had "the strongest capital structure in its history and the financial flexibility to continue to build the world's leading education company".

The deal sees former shareholders left with "warrants that will enable them to participate in 5pc" of the company if its overall valuation recovers.

Irish Independent

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