Banks near agreement on Heron package

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The Independent Online
BANKS owed pounds 800m by Heron International, the troubled property and petrol retailing group, are close to agreeing an injection of funds to tide it over until its debt refinancing is agreed, writes Heather Connon.

Sources close to the banks said yesterday that discussions on providing the extra funds, part of a pounds 19.5m package designed to help the group over the restructuring period, were near completion and they might be transferred today.

The pounds 19.5m will be transferred in three tranches to provide Heron with working capital until March 1994. The first, and smallest, part will provide it with working capital until the restructuring is signed by the banks.

The second tranche will then be paid to tide it over until bondholders, owed pounds 600m, agree to the refinancing, and the third will be used to provide working capital until the refinancing is implemented.

The refinancing talks, which have been going on for almost a year, were due to be concluded by the end of the month but are now expected to continue until at least the middle of March.

Under the draft proposals banks will exchange pounds 400m of their debt for equity. Bondholders will also be asked to swap 60 per cent of their debt for shares, with the remainder converted into other forms of debt.