Nisa refinances debt as tensions over Sainsbury's sale loom

Alys Key
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Shopkeeper members have mixed opinions on the sale (Source: geograph)

Local convenience store chain Nisa has completed a £160m refinancing of its debt as tensions over a potential sale to Sainsbury's continue.

Nisa has agreed a new debt package, jointly provided by HSBC and Wells Fargo.

As part of a long-running turnaround plan under CEO Nick Read, the group said the deal would help it reach targets of £2bn in revenues by 2019. The negotiation of longer term, cheaper debt will bolster the group’s expansion plans.

The move comes as vocal members of the mutual organisation call for Read's resignation and prepare to oppose a takeover bid from Sainsbury's.

Read more: Nisa Retail drafts in bankers as it toys with surprise sale

Both the outside investment and the refinancing were put on the table earlier this month as Nisa considered how to respond to Tesco’s £3.7bn merger with Booker.

It emerged just over a week ago that Sainsbury's had fought off competition from the Co-Operative Group to become the preferred buyer for Nisa.

But some of Nisa's 1,400 shopkeeper members, who will all vote on the final decision, have raised opposition to a takeover as they believe it could result in the demutualisation of the group.

Read more: Why Sainsbury’s has added Nisa to its shopping basket

Over the weekend, Sainsbury's attempted to quell unrest by proposing different models available to Nisa members.

These would include some shops being able to sell Sainsbury's own-brand products while others would continue to sell Nisa produce. Another option would be for independent shops to become franchisees.

Any formal offer will need to win approval from the members, who all have between 1 and 250 votes each. No formal offer has yet been put to the board or the membership.

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