March 4, 2014 / 5:46 PM / in 4 years

RLPC-French Solocal appoints negotiator for debt request

LONDON, March 4 (Reuters) - French online classified ads and directories group Solocal, formerly known as Pages Jaunes, has extended a deadline for lenders to agree an amend and extend of its debt pile, with a negotiator appointed to facilitate the process, the company announced on Tuesday.

Solocal failed to hit its target and secure approval from at least 90 percent of its lenders to an A&E process by a February 27 deadline, and lenders now have until March 24 to extend debt maturities of its TLA3, TLA5 and TLB3 tranches to March 2018 from 2015, with an option to further extend to 2020 in exchange for a 400 million euros ($549.70 million) prepayment from proceeds of a planned capital raise.

BNP Paribas and Morgan Stanley are running the request and lenders will receive a 50 bps fee for extending.

At the request of Solocal, the President of the Commercial Court of Nanterre has appointed Maître Frédéric Abitbol as ‘Conciliateur’ to help with the lender negotiations. Abitbol held a similar role as a court-appointed mediator, or ‘mandataire ad hoc’ for PagesJaunes last year.

Once the required amount of lenders extend, the plan is for Solocal to conduct a rights issue.

If Solocal fails to gain 90 percent but achieves over two-thirds majority it will use a Sauvegarde court procedure -- the French equivalent to a UK scheme of arrangement -- to bind 100 percent of lenders to the request.

If two-thirds of lenders do not approve the A&E then the process is likely to fall away and there will be no rights issue. As Solocal’s equity expires in June there could be a potential restructuring following that, banking sources said.

The group has been handicapped by high debts since a leveraged buyout by private equity funds in 2006, and has suffered as its once-core printed directories business stumbled in the transition to the web. ($1 = 0.7277 euros) (Editing by Christopher Mangham)

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