Contractor confirms it is also "considering" alternative proposal from rebel US investor


Interserve has announced it will reveal details of an updated plan to rescue the ailing contractor next week.

In a statement on the London Stock Exchange today (22 February), the contractor said it expects to publish shareholder documents next week.

It said: "[This] will include the notice of a general meeting of Interserve at which shareholder approval of the deleveraging plan will be sought. The documents will also set out the full terms of the deleveraging plan."

The company also revealed that last night it had received an outline proposal from rebel shareholder Coltrane Asset Management, "which it is considering". It added that it remained committed to achieving a "consensual" solution to a rescue deal.

Earlier this week, Coltrane, which launched a push to have all of the board removed apart from chief executive Debbie White, upped its stake in the business and now owns 27.7% of the contractor.

Under the terms of the restructuring proposal published by Interserve on nearly three weeks ago, six lenders including hedge funds and the HSBC, RBS and BNP Paribas banks will be expected to swap £480m of debt in exchange for 97.5% of the company’s stock – wiping out shareholders' stakes in the business. 

According to The Guardian, which obtained a copy of a Coltrane's alternative plan, the US hedge fund's proposal would hand only 65% of the company to creditors in exchange for £436m of debt, leaving shareholders with an improved 10% of the equity, plus the opportunity to participate in a 25% rights issue worth £75m, which Coltrane would underwrite.

Lenders, meanwhile, are hoping proposals to double the stake of shareholders to 5% under Interserve's planned debt for equity swap will help push that deal, backed by the government and described as "critical" to the future of the company by White, through.

It is also being reported that the firm's lenders, in an attempt to keep the pressure up on shareholders tempted to back the rival Coltrane plan, have lined up EY to manage its administration if they cannot reach agreement with shareholders.

Under this plan, the firm would go into a pre-pack administration with a new owner lined up to take control of the business – and wiping out shareholders entirely.