Independent News agrees standstill deal on bond

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The Independent Online

Independent News & Media has won a grace period from lenders on a €200 million ($270.8 million) bond that gives the group until 26 June to hammer out a repayment deal on the senior note, it said today.

Dublin-based Independent News & Media has been negotiating for months to try and secure an extension on an 18 May deadline and all interest and principal payments on the note will now be suspended during the standstill period.

"The standstill is necessary to facilitate ongoing negotiations between key stakeholders in relation to the group's financial restructuring," the company said in a statement.

The media group said it had secured an additional €15 million working capital facility from its banks for the standstill period, secured on certain assets. The capital will be repaid from asset disposals.

Independent News & Media, which has built up a debt pile of €1.4 billion through overseas expansion, expects to raise €100- €150 million from the sale of its price comparison website Verivox, gaming software firm Cashcade and its South African outdoor advertising business by the end of the third quarter.

There has been much media speculation that the group wants to sell its flagship London Independent newspaper but it has consistently declined to comment on the reports.

Over 90 per cent of bondholders agreed to the standstill deal and Independent News said it could be extended beyond 26 June.

The group, which owns newspapers, radio stations and advertising groups in Britain, Ireland, South Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, has been hit hard by a collapse in advertising as the world economy reels from recession.

The company's shares, which rose 13 per cent on Friday on hopes of a standstill deal on the debt, have lost around 85 per cent of their value over the past 12 months.



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