Weather Finance III (WFIII), the holding company of Greek fixed line, mobile and broadband provider Wind Hellas, has selected an offer from a group of international institutional investors representing a majority of the holders of the company’s Senior Secured Notes (‘SSN Ad-Hoc Committee’) as the preferred bid to take over 100% ownership of the operator. The creditor group beat an offer from existing owner Weather Investments, headed by Egyptian businessman Naguib Sawiris, with the new owners pledging to invest EUR420 million (USD585 million) to repay debt and fund Wind Hellas’ long-term development and business plan, in exchange for full ownership of the company, which has been valued at EUR700-800 million. The transaction will result in the struggling telco clearing EUR1.867 billion of third party debt and will provide it with a strong liquidity position going forward, a statement from UK-based WFIII said. On 1 July 2010 WFIII began the process to effect a restructuring of the capital structure of Wind Hellas, and began accepting bids later that month; following a review of six bids the SSN Ad-Hoc Committee’s proposal was chosen as the preferred bid, and on 18 October 2010 the board of WFIII received evidence that SSN holders representing approximately 77% of the company’s SSNs had executed binding agreements to support the offer.
The SSN offer has been underwritten by Mount Kellett Capital Partners (Ireland), Taconic Capital Advisers UK, Providence Equity Capital Markets, Anchorage Capital Group, Angelo Gordon & Co and Eton Park International. Together these six institutions account for more than 57% of the outstanding EUR1.225 billion in SSNs, which will be wiped out upon the offer’s closing. In addition, EUR355 million in ‘second class’ unsecured senior bonds will also be wiped out, leaving Wind Hellas effectively released from debt, according to the statement.
Having recently agreed to sell off Weather Investments’ controlling stake in international cellular group Orascom Telecom – minus a few selected subsidiaries – to Russia’s Vimpelcom, the Wind Hellas ownership change will leave Naguib Sawiris with direct control of just a handful of units, including Egypt’s MobiNil and North Korean joint venture CHEO Technology (Koryolink).