Bank and shareholders to write down undisclosed sum of public sector contractor’s £300m debt

Public sector contractor Apollo Group has agreed a financial restructuring deal with Lloyds Banking Group, Building can reveal.

The deal will involve two primary shareholders and Lloyds writing down an undisclosed sum of debt, most of which will be in the form of loan notes issued to them when Apollo was bought for £410m by HBOS in August 2007.

The £340m-turnover company, which is based in Essex, declined to reveal the level of debt prior to the move, but its latest financial accounts showed bank borrowing of £318m on 31 March 2008.

Lloyds will continue to hold 20% of the equity. Rob McGregor (pictured), the firm’s chief executive, and Gary Couch, a non-executive director and former chief executive, will hold most of the remaining 80%.

McGregor said: “It’s a great deal for us and has been partly driven by the fact Lloyds is getting the company ready for the HBOS sale.”

The bank recently appointed UBS to explore the feasibility of selling 50 assets in a portfolio built up by HBOS, which it took over in January. The portfolio includes social housing group Keepmoat. It is understood the bank wants to sell all the assets in one go, and at least one banking and hedge fund consortium is understood to be examining the possibility.

The deal means the value of the company, which is estimated to be £175m, will no longer be eclipsed by its debt, making it more attractive to any potential buyer. In return, Lloyds will be paid a higher rate of interest on some of the remaining debt.

McGregor dismissed claims that the deal needed to be struck because interest payments were proving too onerous.

But one source familiar with the company said: “There was quite a bit of accrued interest on some loan notes that would have become payable quite soon, so a restructuring was needed.”