CTRG denies move by banks

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The Independent Online
CREDITOR banks to Central Transport Rental Group, the troubled container leasing company formerly named Tiphook, are discussing the possibility of advising the company to go into administration to rescue it from from losses last year of pounds 330m and debts of pounds 535m.

CTRG last night categorically denied that any suggestion of administration had been made to it by its banks. It said the banks were maintaining their support for the company as outlined in April this year.

Robert Montague, chief executive, is himself fighting a bankruptcy petition from Royal Bank of Scotland for personal debts of pounds 2.3m. Yesterday a trust in which Mr Montague has a beneficial interest sold 434,398 CTRG shares at 33p, raising just over pounds 143,000.

Mr Montague is in New York putting CTRG's case to representatives of US bondholders who are owed more than pounds 500m. The bondholders have brought a class action against the company and some of its directors, alleging that investors were misled during the issue of the bonds in 1992 and 1993 before the emergence of commercial problems in the group.

One source said: 'A lot of balls are up in the air at the moment. A lot depends on what Mr Montague says and how he says it.'

Insolvency specialists from Coopers & Lybrand have been keeping an eye on CTRG on behalf of its banks, led by National Westminster, and would be in line to become administrators if that route were chosen. The US bondholders, for instance, favour a debt-for- equity swap.

Mr Montague is due to return to London on Thursday, when Royal Bank of Scotland intends to serve its bankruptcy writ on him. A bankruptcy hearing has been set for 28 October.

Commerzbank, Barclays and Lloyds also have significant exposures to CTRG. The company sold its container businesses earlier this year for pounds 734m, leaving it with a net worth of pounds 33m and two divisions, trailer rental and railway rental and leasing.