Major British gambling group wants to reduce debt to invest in more Internet and Italian action
The British online and land gambling group Gala Coral is reportedly trying to reduce its GBP 2.7 billion debt pile in order to boost internet operations, reports the Mail on Sunday. And the strategy for doing so is to persuade major existing investors to give up some of their shares in the company to debtholders.
The company is being advised by Lazards as it tries to negotiate a deal with its three major private equity backers, Candover, Permira and Cinven, and a syndicate of 50 financial institutions, which own GBP 550 million of the group's debt. The remaining debt is held by the Gala's banks and would be unaffected by any deal.
Such a debt-for-equity agreement would free up the group's GBP250 million in cash, primarily for expansion in its Italian and Internet enterprises. Using the cash has been hampered by the restrictive terms of the loan agreements.
The company is an important component in the UK gambling industry with almost 2 000 betting offices, 148 bingo clubs, 27 casinos and two greyhound stadia, as well as online and telephone operations. It employs around 19 500 people.
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