Battle over rival proposals hots up ahead of key vote next Friday


Interserve has poured cold water on attempts by its biggest shareholder to come up with an alternative rescue plan.

Coltrane Asset Management, the US hedge fund which owns just over 27% of the firm, sent the firm an updated proposal yesterday afternoon.

This would see creditors given just 55% of the business under a debt for equity swap rather than the 95% Interserve says they should have.

But this afternoon, Interserve said it could not consent to Coltrane’s request “without risking the future of Interserve together with its employees, pensioners, customers and suppliers”.

Coltrane has refused to let Interserve share details of the plan with the outsourcer’s lenders, bonding providers and pension trustees, it added – despite making the key points public on Monday.

“The board has asked Coltrane for its consent to share the Coltrane Proposal with these parties and their advisors, but this request has been refused,” it said.

“The ability to obtain lender support… in the short time frame available is therefore unknown,” Interserve said.

It added: “The Board also notes that the Coltrane Proposal is non-binding and unfunded and remains subject to due diligence. There is therefore no certainty that Coltrane’s proposal could be successfully implemented.

“The Board will be providing more detailed feedback to Coltrane on its proposal today and confirms that the Board remains open to considering any proposal which provides liquidity and a deleveraging solution that is capable of implementation in the time frame available.”

Interserve chairman Glyn Barker, one of the board members Coltrane wants to get rid of, said its deleveraging plan, announced last week, “is the only plan today that provides a certain future for Interserve, preserving some value for shareholders while securing jobs, pensions, and continuity of services.

“In the absence of any other plan that is capable of implementation, further uncertainty continues to risk an outcome in which there is no return to shareholders, including Coltrane, and considerable disruption to the business.”

A vote on Interserve’s proposal is due on 15 March.