DealZone

Heineken brews up loan-to-own deal

Distressed debt investors seek to pick out the diamonds in the rough, the good companies that can be turned around given a fair wind and the right management and capital structure.

These specialist investors buy up the debt of struggling companies aiming either to sell on the debt when the company recovers, or grab an equity stake if the company is forced to cut its borrowing via a debt-for-equity swap.

Stepping into this territory is Dutch brewer Heineken, which has bought up 49 percent of the debt of Globe Pub Company, a UK pub chain owned by property entrepreneur Robert Tchenguiz.

Writing about this earlier, I pointed out that Heineken may have an eye on taking control of Globe Pub and its 425 pubs via a restructuring, in what would be a rare example of a company’s supplier buying it via a “loan to own” strategy.

After busting loan covenants in April, and with the British pub industry in a pretty sorry state, the future of Globe Pub looks to be increasingly in the hands of its creditors.

Another one bites the dust

The Essent electricity plant is seen in MoerdijkAnother auction — appropriately enough, this time of a waste management firm — is consigned to the dustbin of history. As Catherine Hornby and I wrote earlier:

“Dutch utility Essent scrapped the sale of its waste-management unit, blaming low prices and other problems with bids for the failure of an auction that had once aimed to raise a billion euros or more.

“The sale of Essent Milieu, which bankers began working on in late 2008, had originally promised to be one of Europe’s first big leveraged buyouts (LBOs) since the credit crunch, with a staple financing helping attract private equity firms such as BC Partners and PAI.

The Office: More tragedy than comedy for UK banks

Pedestrians walk in the financial district of Canary Wharf in London March 24 2009. With property markets stabilising and hopes that the worst of the financial crisis is behind us, Europe’s banks are now looking to resolve their next biggest problem: 225 billion pounds of loans backed by UK commercial property.

As Sinead Cruise and I wrote earlier today, banks are now organising to sort through this massive debt pile, picking the good from the bad, foreclosing on properties and selling off what they can.

“Lenders have long turned a blind eye to breaches of covenants as long as they met interest demands by collecting rents. But they are now abandoning this softly-softly approach as the British economy worsens, planning foreclosures on a scale not yet seen in this cycle.”

Investment bank in hiring shock

Barclays Capital is thinking big. As Reuters banking correspondent Steve Slater wrote earlier:

“Barclays Capital, the investment bank arm of Britain’s Barclays Plc (BARC.L), will hire more than 750 staff this year as part of its plan to win leading positions in equities and M&A advisory, a top executive said.

“The bank, which bought the U.S. business of Lehman Brothers in September, is now expanding in Europe and Asia. It is also targeting a top three spot in prime services to take advantage of a retreat by rivals servicing hedge funds, he said.

Keeping score

A course worker posts names on a scoreboard before the start of first round play at the 2009 Masters golf tournament in Augusta

A few nuggets from the weekly Thomson Reuters “investment banking scorecard”:

U.S. investment-grade debt is enjoying a busy May (and the month’s not even over yet). Offerings total $70.9 billion from 61 issues so far this month, the largest monthly volume since last May’s record $143.3 billion.

Bolstered by energy and power companies, Indian syndicated lending volume totals $14.1 billion year-to-date. That makes it one of the few nations to experience a year-over-year volume increase, up 9% over 2008.

Deals du jour

Top deals news today includes LSE boss mulling new acquisitions, BC Partners downing tools on a BGI bid and Fiat signing a big Chinese joint venture. All the latest deals news here.

In the morning papers:

The new chief executive of London Stock Exchange Xavier Rolet has told La Tribune newspaper that he is ready to look at acquisitions and alliances but is not treating them as a priority. Reuters story here.

Borders UK, the bookshop chain owned by private equity firm Risk Capital Partners, has appointed restructuring experts RSM Bentley Jennison to advise on closing underperforming stores, The Independent reported.

“Tourists” arrive in private equity

Opportunistic buyers, lovingly dubbed “tourists” by those in the industry, have moved into the secondary private equity market. They’re looThe cruise ship from Mediterranean Shipping Company Musica dwarfs Via Garibald as it arrives in Veniceking for positions in brand-name private equity funds at knock-down prices. As I wrote in a DealTalk today:”Pension funds and wealthy middle-east sovereign wealth funds are buying up investments in private equity funds, pushing up prices and sidelining secondary firms that specialise in acquiring the assets.”The market for second-hand private equity assets — where private equity investors offload assets to specialist buyers — has mushroomed as the credit crisis has intensified. And increasing numbers of cash-strapped investors are concerned about meeting their future commitments to buyout funds.”New investors have been attracted to deals by steep discounts to net asset value, forcing up prices for specialist buyers, such as Goldman Sachs (GS.N) and HarbourVest Partners (HVPE.AS) that last month closed secondary funds after reaching their $5.5 billion and $2.9 billion targets respectively.”Read the full piece here.

Deals du jour

Top deals news today includes Fiat boss’s confidence about an Opel takeover, Regions Financial planning a $1.25 billion stock offer, Aussie Rio shareholders seeking a new Chinalco deal and Novartis buying cancer drugs unit. All the latest deals news here.

In the morning papers:

Fiat SpA has more than a 50 percent chance of successfully linking up with Opel, La Stampa said, citing chief executive Sergio Marchionne. Reuters story here.

British pub company Mitchells & Butlers is in talks with banks over a possible rights issue, the Financial Times reported.

Deals du jour

A man looks at local newspapers, with articles regarding France's President Nicolas Sarkozy's visit on their front pages, at a news kiosk in Mexico CityA Facebook IPO is a few years off, Bank of America raises $13.47 billion in a share sale, GM’s bankruptcy plan envisages a quick sale to government, and more. Here are the latest deal-related stories:

Facebook CEO says IPO a few years out

Bank of America raises $13.47 billion in share sale

GM bankruptcy plan eyes quick sale to government

SolarWinds IPO prices at $12.50, above range

IBM to continue being active dealmaker

Itau interested in buying small banks in Brazil

Broadcom urges Emulex investors question rosy view

Viterra to buy Australia’s ABB for $1.2 billion

Investors expect better hedge fund terms

And in the morning papers:

Global mining company Rio Tinto may replace the $7.2 billion convertible bond that is part of its tie-up with Chinalco with a capital raising underwritten by the Chinese firm, The Australian newspaper said. Reuters story here.

India’s Religare Enterprises and Australia’s Macquarie Group have jointly bid $500 million to buy AIG Investments, which manages $100 billion in client funds globally, according to The Times of India.

MACs are big

A demonstrator wearing a model of a hamburger on his head protests in Munich

And earn-outs are in. So says a new survey looking at almost 500 European deals from 2007-08 (most below $500m). As I wrote:

“The balance of power in European mergers and acquisitions (M&A) has shifted towards buyers, with deals containing more legal safeguards against a purchase turning sour, a survey released on Tuesday showed.

“The survey, by lawyers and accountants CMS, found more deals now contain ‘earn-out’ or ‘material adverse change’ clauses to protect buyers, and they often get longer to assess if a business is all it was promised to be.”