Numericable Improves Loan Terms Again

LONDON (Reuters) – French cable television operator Numericable said that it has increased the interest margin on a loan amendment request, the company said on Monday.

Numericable is seeking to amend its loan to allow it to buy back debt and raise senior secured bonds but the original request was rejected twice despite extending deadlines.

Lenders have been taking a harder line with some underperforming companies and some of Numericable’s lenders formed a blocking group and demanded better terms, several sources said.

Numericable has now agreed to increase the interest margin on its 3.225 billion euros ($4.83 billion) loan to 150 basis points (bps) split into a 25 bps cash and 125 bps payment in kind (PIK) component, a banker close to the deal said.

This is a substantial increase on its earlier offer of 75 bps – split 25 bps cash and 50 bps PIK, the banker said.

The increase puts the new interest margin at the top end of other European leveraged loan waivers such as UK aerospace and metals components maker Firth Rixson and UK engineering firm Doncasters, the banker said.

“At this point, this is a fair offer,” the banker said.

Numericable’s loan amendment requires approval from two thirds of the bank syndicate. The fee of 50 basis points — split between a 25 bps early bird fee and a 25 bps consent fee remains unchanged.

A new early bird deadline is scheduled for Tuesday Nov. 24 while the final deadline is on Friday Nov. 27.

Numericable was initially seeking to increase interest margins based on a leverage grid up to 100 bps, while the new proposal offers fixed terms.

Numericable is owned by private equity firms Cinven, Carlyle Group and media and telecom investment group Altice.

(Reporting by Zaida Espana; additional reporting by Marie Mawad; Editing by David Cowell)