Phoney war

The market continues to feel slightly unreal, with the pipeline for new primary deals remaining extraordinarily light and little prospect of any pick up in the next two quarters.

While for the most part banks and sponsors are focused on their portfolios, bankers do see the potential for deals that tweak or rebalance existing structures – with either a new or existing sponsor – particularly where there is the prospect of rolling existing unsecured lenders into a secured structure.

Syndication of the €470m N&W Global Vending through bookrunners Bank of Ireland, Barclays, BNP Paribas, Calyon, ING, Intesa Sanpaolo, Natixis and SG is close to completion, with banks, already at target hold levels, set to bring in a final commitment in the coming week.

The deal benefited from an existing lender group that has largely been retained in the new deal, the big number of banks at the top level and local market liquidity in Italy.

Bookrunners are still in the market with €260m facilities backing the buyout of Socotech, a French provider of technology and inspection services to aggregates mining and quarry operators. BNP Paribas, Calyon, Natixis and SG are mandated as bookrunners on the senior debt, with BNP Paribas, Calyon and SG also mandated to arrange mezzanine debt.

In December creditors approved Seat Pagine Gialle‘s waiver request by what a source said was a high 90s percent majority.

The part-listed, leveraged directories business sought a waiver to allow 20% headroom to covenants on its €3.1bn banking facilities. Investors responded positively to its offer of a 1% margin increase and 50bp fee for approving the deal. In addition the financial sponsors who constitute Seat’s majority shareholders will put new equity into the business through a €200m rights increase, and freeze dividends until the company’s net debt/Ebitda ratio reaches four.

Half the proceeds of the rights issue will be used to pay down senior debt, with the balance used for general corporate purposes.

One source suggested the waiver process was probably more smooth than similar moves in 2009 would be, not only because of the timing of the deal but thanks to low leverage – at 2.6x, the new equity injection, and the stability of the underlying business.

Sponsor BC Partners said its portfolio company Dometic, a Swedish luxury boat fittings business, is set to breach its banking covenants, and said talks with creditors would begin soon.

In 2005 Mizuho arranged a €1bn loan package to support BC Partners’ buyout of Dometic from EQT.