Tiphook assures bankers

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BANKERS to the beleaguered transport group Tiphook have been assured of a price of 'not less than' pounds 780m for the company's container-leasing operation in an effort to ensure their continuing support, writes David Hellier.

Though this is pounds 50m less than originally agreed with the purchaser, Transamerica, it is viewed by analysts as acceptable. If such a price is achieved, it is likely that Tiphook, headed by Robert Montague, will successfully reschedule its debts.

Bankers seeking to end exposure to the company believe that the deal will enable them to be paid out. But the pounds 50m reduction in the expected sale price could affect the value of the company for bond- and shareholders.

Tiphook shares closed the week up 2p at 59p, having dropped as low as 44p before the deal was announced. More than half of Tiphook's shares are now held by US investors.

A Tiphook spokesman said this weekend that negotiations with Transamerica 'have gone well' but the price has not been firmed up. This does not entirely square with the impression NatWest, the lead lender, has been giving worried bankers.

Two weeks ago the Independent on Sunday said that Hypo Bank of Germany had threatened to put the company into receivership, but that its threat had been withdrawn after it was given certain assurances by the company and its bankers.

Tiphook has promised its shareholders a circular later in the month giving details of the Transamerica deal, of the company's latest financial results and of the restructuring.

(Photograph omitted)