New Look rescue deal could see it launching sale process - report
today Jan 25, 2019
News emerged Friday that New Look may have to put itself up for sale in order to complete the refinancing process that it announced earlier this month.
The Guardian reported that in a note to bondholders seen by the newspaper, New Look said it “may be required to launch a sale process for the group in which other interested parties could participate”. The thinking is that it may have to demonstrate that there’s no better option than the restructuring plan in order to stave off the threat of legal challenges from creditors, especially those holding millions in unsecured bonds.
The company has been working with existing big bondholders to reduce its onerous debt load from £1.35 billion to around £500 million. In exchange for a massive financing injection, this would mean those bondholders owning more than 90% of the company.
The firm has been forced into that position after its sales and profits were devastated by overambitious expansion abroad and its move to become too young and trend-focused backfired.
Its recovery plan has seen it closing 85 stores so far with more closures planned, as well as international exits.
The company will have access to the first chunk of its new funding (£80 million) next week after over 90% of senior bondholders backed the refinancing proposal.
New Look’s owner Brait is the group’s largest bondholder and will have a sizeable stake after the restructuring of around 18%, although that's down from the 90% it currently holds. Management will hold 5%.
But so-called junior bondholders might not be happy as they'll own just 2% of the post-restructure equity, which is where the possibility of the company having to put itself up for sale comes in.
Meanwhile, staying upbeat, executive Chairman Alistair McGeorge said that getting lender approval for its plans is “a vote of confidence in our strategy, the strength of our brand and management’s ability to deliver the wider turnaround plans already being implemented”.
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