Webhelp buyout backed with approx €1.4 billion of loans

LONDON (LPC) - The acquisition of French call centre business Webhelp by Groupe Bruxelles Lambert (GBL) and founding shareholders is expected to be backed with around €1.4bn (£1.2 billion) of debt financing, banking sources said.

GBL announced on July 9 it had entered into exclusive negotiations to acquire a majority stake in Webhelp, together with founding shareholders and management, from KKR for an enterprise value of €2.4bn.

The buyout is expected to be backed with up to €1.2bn of senior leveraged loans, which increases to around €1.4bn, including undrawn facilities, the sources said.

The total debt quantum could increase further if a second-lien loan is included in the structure, although an all-senior financing is preferential, the sources said.

The loans are expected to be denominated in euros and sterling, the sources added.

GBL was not immediately available to comment.

KKR agreed to buy Webhelp from Charterhouse in November 2015, backed with a €640m financing package raised in 2016. It raised an additional €75m of leveraged loans in 2017 and a €425m first and second-lien loan in 2018, according to LPC data.

The financing is expected to be welcomed by investors as Webhelp is a well-known borrower in Europe’s leveraged loan market, the sources said.

KKR and Nomura led the 2017 and 2018 leveraged loan financings and are expected to get a spot on the latest financing backing GBL’s buyout, the sources said.

Founded in 2000 by co-chairmen Olivier Duha and Frederic Jousset, Webhelp is present in 35 countries and employs more than 50,000 people. The group has doubled in size since KKR’s acquisition and aims to achieve a turnover of €1.5bn in 2019.

Editing by Christopher Mangham