September 26, 2001
Kvaerner reaches agreement with banks
Trading in Kvaerner group shares on the Oslo stock exchange resumed today after the company reached agreement with its main banks on restructuring its short-term and long-term financing. The shares closed at NOK 7.19. As recently as July, they had been trading around the NOK 70 level. ($1= NOK 8.7335).
Kvaerner said provision of short-term liquidity had received first priority in its negotiations with the banks, As a result of those negotiations, The outcome of the negotiations with the Companys main banks is summarised as follows:
the term of a NOK 800 million short-term loan has been extended to December 31, 2001. This loan was granted on September 19, 2001.
The banks will work to replace Kvaerners existing short-term loan facilities with a three-year loan, which is to be repaid at the end of the term.
The banks presume that a rights Issue will be undertaken, securing proceeds of at least NOK 1 billion. Kvaerners says that intends, however, to implement an Issue of NOK 2 billion, based on preferential rights for existing shareholders.
"Given the uncertainty attached to the Kvaerner share lately," says the company, "and a desire to reduce risk for the new capital, the board will work to arrange the rights Issue as a three-year convertible bond, either in whole or in part."
Based on the agreement with the groups banks, efforts will now be intensified to establish an underwriting syndicate for the rights Issue. So far, DnB, Folketrygdfondet, Siem Industries, and others have agreed to participate in the syndicate, subject to a satisfactory refinancing of the groups US$ 450 million loan facility and a full underwriting of the Rights Issue of NOK 1 billion. The total amount underwritten so far is NOK 500 million. The terms and conditions of the rights Issue will be determined in due course and the rights offering is expected to be completed by the end of November.
Friede Goldman Halter plans to retain investment banking firm
Subject to Bankruptcy Court approval, Friede Goldman Halter, Inc., plans to retain the services of investment bankers Houlihan Lokey Howard & Zukin.
Among Houlihan Lokey's specialties is providing financial restructuring and mergers and acquisitions expertise to financially distressed companies. In the last decade, Houlihan Lokey says it has facilitated over $30 billion of transactions for more than 200 distressed companies ranging in size from middle market to Fortune 500.
The firm advises troubled companies, secured lenders, bondholders, creditor committees, acquirors and other stakeholders in Chapter 11 planning and strategy, restructuring of existing debt and equity, placing additional capital, and negotiating plans of reorganization. In addition, Houlihan Lokey describes itself as "one of the most active and successful mergers and acquisitions agents in distressed situations."
FGH says it will "draw upon the firm's diverse industry experience, extensive talent base, and resources to coordinate and execute a successful financial restructuring."
FGH also announced today the appointment of Bob Shepherd to the position of Senior Vice President, Administration. Shepherd brings 24 years of experience in the shipbuilding and offshore industries to the position. He succeeds Charles DeCuir who recently resigned.
Carnival reports 97.7% occupancy rate, Renaissance folds
For departures for the period between Wednesday, Sept. 19 and Sunday, Sept. 23, 2001, the six brands of Carnival Corporation operated at an occupancy level of 97.7 percent.
During this period, the six brands -- Carnival, Holland America, Windstar, Seabourn, Costa and Cunard -- carried 58,718 guests.
"Obviously, the strengthening in occupancy levels is very encouraging and clearly indicates that consumers are resuming their vacation plans, including returning to the airways,'' said Micky Arison, Carnival Corporation chairman and CEO.
He added that despite the increased security at airports and seaports, delays have been less than anticipated and consumers are demonstrating a desire to begin traveling again. "It's apparent that based on these numbers Americans are heeding the advice of our elected officials and returning to their normal activities, which includes taking vacations," Arison said.
Not all cruise lines have been as successful. Renaissance Cruises has ceased cruise operations. Its website yesterday announced: