Court allows Premier Oil creditors' to vote on planned deals on February 12

LONDON (Reuters) - Indebted Premier Oil PMO.L won permission from a court on Thursday to have its creditors vote on planned acquisitions of North Sea assets for around $800 million under a scheme that would allow it to delay debt repayments and issue new shares.

Premier Oil said in a statement that it will hold a creditor meeting to vote on the scheme on Feb. 12, with a hearing to sanction the action decided on in the vote expected to take place in March.

Hedge fund ARCM, which holds around 15% of Premier’s debt and has had a growing short position in its shares since 2017 - currently around 17% of its stock, some four times higher than the average for London-listed firms - rejected the plans.

But an ARCM request for an adjournment of the creditor vote was not successful on Thursday.

Premier needs investors representing at least 75% of its outstanding debt of around $2 billion to agree to its plans under an arrangement reached with its creditors in a debt restructuring in 2017.

The March meeting can give formal permission to proceed with the acquisition plans.

Of the creditors subject to the schemes, 86% of Super Senior Commitments and 75% of Senior Commitments have agreed to vote in their favour at the creditor meetings, Premier said, referring to different classes of bondholders.

A spokesman added that Premier had the creditors’ promise of support in writing.

“The agreement to proceed with the scheme of arrangement is an important step in securing a strong platform for Premier Oil’s future success,” a spokeswoman for the Ad Hoc Creditors, a creditor group supporting Premier’s plans, said.

“Any frustrating actions by ARCM would be designed to cause maximum disruption and uncertainty in order to fuel the hedge fund’s only recently disclosed material short position in the company.”

ARCM had no immediate comment. An investor with a short position makes a profit on a stock when its price declines.

Reporting by Shadia Nasralla; Editing by Jan Harvey