Independent News & Media faces crunch week on debt
LONDON - Sir Anthony O'Reilly and fellow Independent News & Media shareholder Denis O'Brien are to invest millions of their own cash as they struggle to complete a €200m (£180m) refinancing deal, which has only a "50:50" chance of success.
O'Reilly and O'Brien have committed personally to investing at least €30m to buy out bondholders as part of a proposal to refinance a €200m bond due on May 18.
Under the plans, the newspaper publisher will ask bondholders to roll over between 60% and 70% of their investment into a new bond with a higher interest rate, according to a report in the Sunday Times.
O'Reilly, the outgoing chief executive of IN&M and largest shareholder with around 28.5%, and O'Brien, the firm's second largest shareholder with 26%, will reportedly refinance the rest of the €200m bond from their own cash, along with a bridging facility negotiated with IN&M's bankers.
O'Brien told the Sunday Times that the chance of the proposal being successful was "50-50".
The Dublin-based company has been looking to offload a number of assets to relieve a £1.3bn debt burden, including its stakes in Hindi-language Indian newspaper Dainik Jagran, German price-comparison website Verivox, and the online bingo firm Cashcade, which operates FoxyBingo.com.
Reports have also surfaced about IN&M mulling plans to sell its flagship titles -- The Independent and The Independent on Sunday with The Times of India and Alexander Lebedev mentioned as possible buyers.
IN&M is due to publish its full-year figures on Thursday after postponing their release twice due to the ongoing talks with bondholders.
Total revenues are expected to be down 3% on the previous year to €1.4bn.
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