LONDON Jan 11 Troubled Switzerland-based refiner Petroplus has hired financial advisory firm Rothschild to advise on a potential restructuring, as distressed investors sniff around the company's debt, a source close to the talks said on Wednesday.
Rothschild's Paris-based team is handling the discussions with Petroplus, the source added.
Lenders froze about $1 billion of uncommitted loans under Petroplus' revolving credit in December, and the company started to temporarily close three refineries, including the Petit Couronne plant in France, which employs 550 people.
Petroplus is negotiating with lenders to restore the funds it needs to keep its five European refineries open.
Petroplus could not immediately be reached for comment.
Distressed debt investors are buying Petroplus bonds as the company moves towards a debt restructuring, banking sources said.
The company's $600 million, 6.75 percent senior notes due 2014 were offered at 45 percent of face value on Wednesday, according to one bank's distressed-debt team.
This suggests sellers are prepared to accept a 55 percent loss on bond investment to get rid of their exposure, which points to losses on a potential restructuring.
Petroplus' $1.05 billion revolving credit facility was also offered at 85 percent of face value in the secondary loan trading market, according to one bank's loan trading desk, although it is unclear if any trades have taken place. (Editing by David Hulmes)