Yell pays banks £17m in fees deal to ease its debt burden

The troubled Yellow Pages publisher Yell has won a crucial breathing space after lenders agreed to relax rules on its £2.6bn debt load.

Yell is paying £17m in fees to the banks in return for extra headroom on its loan covenants, which are based on the ratio of debt to profits.

The directories group has about 300 lenders. More than 90 per cent of them, including the largest, Royal Bank of Scotland, HSBC and Deutsche Bank, agreed to ease the covenants. But about 20 smaller lenders refused. Yell needed a two-thirds majority.

The banks which agreed the changes received a fee equivalent to 0.75 per cent of their loan.

Yell was in danger of breaching covenants and possible collapse without the deal.

The group still faces a double whammy. Digital revenues are not increasing fast enough to offset falling print sales and the loan covenants tighten each year ahead of a 2014 deadline.