* Strikes deal to extend maturities of under 1 bln euros of
* Will pay back a third of its debt by April 2015
* PagesJaunes shares up 10.2 pct, Hibu down 15 percent
* Hibu says will have debt plan by January-end
(Adds share price, analyst comment, background, Hibu)
By Alice Cannet and Abhishek Takle
PARIS, Nov 13 French group PagesJaunes,
struggling with falling sales in its core telephone directory
business, has won an agreement to complete the refinancing of
its 2.2 billion euros ($2.8 billion) debt, lifting any threat of
"It is an uncertainty about the evolution of the company
which has been completely lifted," chief executive Jean-Pierre
Remy told Reuters on Tuesday. "It is reassuring for everyone."
PagesJaunes and peers such as British group Hibu
have struggled to stem a slide in their print businesses and
pare huge debt piles as they shift to online advertising in
response to growing use of the internet to find local listings.
The company said it had got a two-year extension on a large
part of its debt and would repay about a third of it, or 680
"This takes away most of the mid-term risk off PagesJaunes,
which some had speculated might have to file for bankruptcy. It
confirms its recovery, by further shifting to internet
revenues," a Paris-based trader said.
PagesJaunes shares, which had more than halved in value this
year amid doubt about its ability to restructure debt, were up
10.2 percent at 1305 GMT.
The company will immediately pay back 417 million euros to
creditors and has until April 2015 to repay another 263 million.
It also got more than 90 percent of creditors to agree an
extension to September 2015 from November next year on the
maturities of nearly 1 billion euros in loans including a
revolving credit line of 300 million euros.
Less clear cut was the future of Hibu, formerly known as
Yell Group. On Tuesday, it reiterated plans to present a debt
restructuring plan to lenders by end-January. Its shares fell 15
Hibu has 2 billion pounds ($3.3 billion) debt, mostly built
up through acquisitions that included a Spanish directories
business for 3.3 billion euros in 2006.
Late last month, Hibu reached a deal with a committee of
lenders, accounting for 537 million pounds debt, under which the
company would not have to make payments until it completes the
PagesJaunes said sales at its internet business grew 9.4
percent in the first nine months to 463 million euros, to
represent close to 60 percent of group revenue compared with 52
percent a year ago.
Remy said the business was profitable, allowing the group to
generate 200 million euros cash flow every year. That cash flow,
its credit line, and money saved by scrapping dividends allowed
the group to repay part of the debt.
The company will start paying a dividend once its ratio of
debt to earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and
amortization is below three, he said.
PagesJaunes started restructuring its debt when refinancing
70 percent of it in the first half of 2011.
($1 = 0.7867 euro)
(Additional reporting bt Gwénaëlle Barzic and Blaise Robinson;
Editing by Dan Lalor)