May 12, 2014 / 3:18 PM / 5 years ago

RLPC-Vivarte considers debt restructuring options

LONDON, May 12 (Reuters) - A number of lenders to struggling French retailer Vivarte have submitted proposals to restructure the company’s 2.8 billion euro ($3.85 billion) debt, banking sources said on Monday.

The plan would lead to an injection of fresh cash and wipe out a portion of existing debt in return for equity, the sources said.

Vivarte entered into a four-month conciliation process with its lenders in March to negotiate a way forward after the borrower failed to get an agreement from a majority of its lenders to suspend loan covenant tests.

A number of lenders submitted letters of intent on how to restructure Vivarte’s debt last month and more formal offers were submitted last Friday, the banking sources said.

Investment funds Oaktree, Canyon, Goldentree and ICG, which own around 26 percent of Vivarte’s loans between them, have teamed up to submit a proposal and want other lenders to join them in underwriting a new deal. Other lenders, including Alcentra, have also submitted offers, they added.

Other parties to have expressed interest in the company include KKR, as well as Angelo Gordon, the sources said.

Vivarte is looking to reduce debt to a maximum of 1 billion euros. Proposals centre around the injection of 500 million euros of new cash either in the form of super senior loans or convertible bonds and writing off up to 2.3 billion euros of existing first lien and second lien debt, in return for equity, the banking sources said.

Vivarte’s management is discussing options with the ‘Conciliateur’ and will decide which offer it prefers before presenting it to lenders. Any restructuring proposal will require two-thirds of lenders to approve and subsequent approval by the commercial court, the banking sources added.

Private equity firm Charterhouse, bought Vivarte in 2007, backed by 3.43 billion euros of leveraged loans, but has struggled to manage its debt in an unfavourable economic and consumer environment in France. Charterhouse is not expected to be involved in a new restructured Vivarte.

Vivarte’s senior loans were quoted higher on Europe’s secondary loan market last week at 40 percent of face value on May 9 compared to 35.8 percent of face value on May 1, according to Thomson Reuters LPC data. The loans were quoted higher due to the potential restructuring, several loan traders said.

Vivarte and Charterhouse declined to comment. ICG, Oaktree, Goldentree, Canyon, KKR and Angelo Gordon were not immediately available to comment. ($1 = 0.7269 Euros) (Editing by Christopher Mangham)

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