The Greek telco Wind Hellas has agreed a debt refinancing deal with the banks and hedge funds operating its credit facilities. A statement from the operator lards developments in verbosity about it "taking a number of actions materially to improve" its liquidity and "stabilise its capital structure" whilst carrying out yet another "strategic review" of its business, but the simple fact of the matter is that it's up for sale - again. Martyn Warwick reports.
The new financial agreement runs until November 5. The carrier says this will be enough time for it "to enhance its liquidity in the near-term whilst the group pursues a long-term solution to its capital structure with the support of its creditors and shareholder." In other words - it's up for sale.
The Wind Hellas board has appointed Mike Corner-Jones of Alvarez and Marsal, a company specialising in company turnarounds and restructurings, as the "Chief Restructuring Officer" whilst Morgan Stanley has been retained "to solicit offers to acquire the shares of Wind Hellas." In other words - it's up for sale.
Hellas is owned currently by the Egyptian telecoms entrepreneur, Naguib Sawiris, and the beleaguered company had been due to make debt repayments of €40.5 million by the middle of this month.
With default looming, Mr.
Sawiris asked creditors to give Wind Hellas the time to restructure its debts in a second such exercise in just seven months. Mr. Sawiris leavened what was basically an ultimatum rather than a negotiating ploy by adding, says, "I am willing to put more cash into the company depending on the outcome of negotiations with creditors."
Wind Hellas, the third-biggest mobile operator in Greece, used to be a viable, even vibrant, business but it was deliberately sunk into the mire by two private equity partners, Apax Partners and the Texas Pacific Group, who, between 2005 and the end of 2006 loaded it with an astonishing €3 billion in debt. In a classic example of vulture capitalism at its most rapacious, the pair stripped Wind Hellas of cash and then sold on the remains a mere two years after buying it.
Subsequently Wind Hellas moved its HQ to London to take advantage of the UK's bankruptcy protection laws. Mr. Sawiris later bought it from the administrator via his holding company Weather Investments SpA.
And now, guess what? Yup, it's up for sale.
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