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Punch Taverns delays plans to restructure its debt

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: August 12, 2014

By Rob Smyth

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A BURTON pub giant has delayed plans to restructure its £2.3 billion debt pile.

Bosses at Punch Taverns, based on Centrum 100, have revealed that they have been forced to make the move to allow time for continuing discussions with shareholders and stakeholders.

The plans, if they finally get given the go-ahead, would see the firm reduce its debts by around £600 million.

The company now has a window of 10 business days to put proposals in place that were first outlined in June.

A spokesman for the firm said: "Punch announces that the launch of the restructuring has been delayed, as some additional time is required to conclude discussions between certain stakeholders, and for the documentation to be finalised.

"The board believes that a restructuring on terms which are broadly similar to those announced on June 26 can be launched within the 10 business day cure period.

"However, there can be no certainty that a restructuring will be launched within this period.

"The board continues to believe that a consensual restructuring is required to avoid a near-term default, which would have material adverse consequences for all stakeholders and, in particular, for shareholders."

Under the proposals Punch's debt would be converted into shares in a debt-for-equity swap, while creditors would be allowed to buy shares in the company at a discounted rate.

This comes after the Mail reported how, last month, the firm asked its noteholders to vote in favour of the waiving of several restrictions which would allow it to meet certain milestones such as the restructuring being launched yesterday.

The Mail recently reported that bosses at the firm reassured staff over the impact that the restructuring plans will have on the value of existing company shares.

Stephen Billingham, executive chairman at Punch Taverns, said: "The suggestion is that following the completion of the restructuring the share price could be 15 per cent of its current value.

"In reaching this conclusion the press are taking no account of the fact that the current share price should reflect the market's view of the proposals we have already announced, in which the equity base of the company will increase by nearly six times following the restructuring whilst total net debt would be reduced by around £600 million.

"The forecast is a post-restructuring share price of 10p for all shares.

"Of course it is not possible to provide any certainty as to the actual share price following the restructuring as it will be affected by many factors."

The firm has also been recently been boosted by impressive financial results on the back of the World Cup.

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