Endemol gets deal to restructure €2bn debt

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The Independent Online

The debt-laden Big Brother TV production company Endemol today reached a deal with a majority of its lenders about restructuring of its €2 bn (£1.67bn) of debt – despite opposition from two key players.

One of Endemol's three co-owners, ex-Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi's Mediaset, and one of its lenders, Barclays, are both understood to remain opposed.

However, they are unlikely to derail the restructuring after Endemol said it had won an "agreement in principle" with more than two-thirds of lenders.

Endemol needed 66 per cent support for the debt-for-equity swap, which should reduce its burden to just €500m.

The trio of owners – Mediaset, Goldman Sachs and Dutch TV mogul John de Mol's Cyrte – will have to give up some of their shareholding in return for the debts being wiped. The main lenders, who include Apollo Management, are also expected get seats on the board.

Endemol claimed the agreement was a "significant milestone" and it is now looking to finalise the deal in the coming weeks.

Mediaset, Goldman and Cyrte, which bought Endemol for around €3.2bn in 2007, have been struggling since last summer to resolve the impasse.

The TV firm was on course to breach banking covenants last July but won extra time as it tried to negotiate a write-off of the debt.

Endemol produces a string of top shows, including Deal Or No Deal, The Million Pound Drop and Diary of A Call Girl.

The group indicated last autumn it would reject a €1bn bid from US giant Time Warner.