INM debt progress expected this week

Independent News & Media is expected to report on progress being made on its debt restructuring efforts next month.

INM debt progress expected this week

INM is currently remaining tight-lipped over the matter despite speculation over the weekend that it may be close to agreeing a debt-for-equity swap deal with its main lenders.

It was reported yesterday that Irish Independent publisher INM, which is currently exploring ways to lower its €420m debt, has received proposals from a consortium of its main lending banks; the main element, apparently, concerning them taking a significant equity stake in INM instead of a cash repayment of part of their owed debt.

The collective of lenders is thought to be led by Royal Bank of Scotland Group, the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, and Barclays.

However, the likes of Bank of Ireland, AIB, HSBC, KBC, and Lloyds are also included in the group and could be all in line for equity stakes in the media giant.

INM’s management has previously stated that the group needs to clear or write off around €100m of its debt and such a deal, as reported over the weekend, could see the group’s lenders end up with a large combined majority stake in the business. Telecom and media owner Denis O’Brien is INM’s largest single shareholder with a 29.9% stake.

A spokesperson for INM said the company was making no comment on the matter, yesterday, but a source suggested the report is likely to hold a large degree of substance.

It is unclear what will happen to INM’s status as a publicly listed company, with some partial listing still a possibility.

The urgency on a deal is well understood and completion of a partial debt writeoff is thought to be crucial to the completion of INM’s agreed €170m sale of its South African print titles.

It is expected that management will update on the matter when it publishes its financial results next month.

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