RLPC-Vivarte lenders to appoint restructuring adviser

Thu Jan 30, 2014 8:11am EST

* Vivarte's lenders fail to agree loan covenant holiday

* Court appoints mandataire to negotiate with lenders

* French banks sell Vivarte's loans

By Claire Ruckin

LONDON, Jan 29 (Reuters) - Lenders to struggling French retailer Vivarte are close to appointing a restructuring adviser after rejecting Vivarte's request to ignore a breach of its loan covenants, banking sources said on Thursday.

Private equity firm Charterhouse, bought Vivarte in 2007, backed by 3.43 billion euros ($4.68 billion) of leveraged loans, but has struggled to manage its debt in an unfavourable economic and consumer environment in France

Vivarte asked lenders to suspend its covenant tests in a 'covenant holiday' in December to buy time to implement plans that would improve its business trading performance.

French courts appointed a mandataire ad hoc to mediate talks between Vivarte and its lenders after Vivarte failed to get agreement from two-thirds of its lenders to the request by a deadline of January 22, the sources said.

Some dissenting lenders are seeking to appoint a separate restructuring adviser shortly and several restructuring companies are pitching for the business, the sources said.

"A restructuring adviser will facilitate a proper negotiation and process between lenders and the company. There needs to be a deal which works," one of the sources said.

Charterhouse declined to comment. Vivarte was not immediately available to comment.

SELL OFF

Some lenders have sold Vivarte's loans in Europe's secondary loan market to avoid potential losses.

BNP sold most of a 30 million euro block of loans in the company to a distressed investor last Friday, the sources said. Societe Generale is also expected to sell some of Vivarte's loans, the sources said.

Last year, Natixis and Credit Agricole sold some of their exposure to Vivarte [ID: nRLP33673a].

Vivarte's unextended term loans were quoted at 79.8 percent of face value on Wednesday, down from 85.6 on January 1, according to Thomson Reuters LPC data.

An extended term loan was quoted at 77.9 on Wednesday, nearly five points lower than 83 on January 1, the data shows.

($1 = 0.7329 euros) (Additonal reporting by Sandrine Bradley; Editing by Tessa Walsh)

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