November 5, 2013 / 5:05 PM / in 5 years

Centerbridge buys up Apcoa's debt before restructuring

LONDON (Reuters) - Distressed debt investor Centerbridge has bought hundreds of millions of euros of Apcoa Parking’s leveraged loans in a bid to gain control of Europe’s biggest parking management firm, banking sources said on Tuesday.

Lazard and Rothschild are advising Apcoa on a debt restructuring which has to take place before the company’s 650 million euros ($875.85 million) of buyout loans mature in April 2014.

Apcoa was bought by Eurazeo (EURA.PA) for 885 million euros in August 2007 from Bahrain’s Investcorp at the peak of the buyout boom but has struggled to manage its debt burden in a weak growth environment in Europe.

Apcoa’s lenders have sold around 400 million euros (336.82 million pounds) of the company’s leveraged loans in Europe’s secondary market in the last two months to try to avoid heavy losses in a debt restructuring, the banking sources said.

“Banks are selling out of Apcoa and running for the door. Centerbridge is in the driving seat and will look to buy out the rest of the syndicate and lead a debt restructuring,” one of the sources said.

Centerbridge has been the biggest buyer of Apcoa’s loans. Its ‘loan to own’ strategy is expected to yield a majority stake which will be converted into equity in a debt for equity swap, the banking sources said.

Centerbridge and Apcoa were not immediately available to comment. Eurazeo declined to comment.

A lender put 44 million euros of Apcoa’s loans up for auction last week but the paper failed to sell as the seller’s price of 89 percent of face value was deemed too high, the banking sources said.

Apcoa’s term loan B paper is currently quoted at around 85 percent of face value, according to Thomson Reuters LPC data.

Apcoa currently manages around 1.3 million parking spaces at over 7,500 locations in 12 countries, according to the company’s website.

Editing by Tessa Walsh

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