Legal threat as Heron wins vote

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HERON, the embattled property-to-petrol pumps group, narrowly won a vital vote of confidence for its pounds 1.4bn restructuring yesterday at a creditors' meeting in London. But several bondholders attacked the plan and said they would oppose it in court, writes John Willcock.

The restructuring faces three crucial votes from creditors, each of which has to be passed with a 75 per cent majority by value. Yesterday's first vote showed 80 per cent in favour in terms of value but only 75 per cent in numbers of voters.

The figures were pounds 345m in favour and pounds 81m against. In terms of creditors that was 6,345 in favour against 2,073 opposed. Most had voted by proxy.

The 20 creditors present, who were addressed by Heron's chairman, Gerald Ronson, were outnumbered by their professional advisers. The only person to attack the restructuring proposals was a solicitor representing Simon Shane, a director of First Eastern Developments, a Bermuda-based property company.

After the meeting Mr Shane said that creditors had been given insufficient information and he would challenge the plan when it was presented for ratification in the London courts next month.

One Continental creditor said: 'We doubt whether the restructuring can succeed because it relies on property sales in France, Spain and Germany, which are all heading into recession.' The second vote on the plan is in the Netherlands tomorrow and the last in the Netherlands Antilles next Monday.