AA owner nears finishing line on debt deal

Michael Bow
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THE OWNER of car insurer AA and holiday group Saga is closing in on its long awaited multi-billion pound debt refinancing deal, paving the way for a break up of the group.

Acromas, which was formed in 2007 by private equity firms Charterhouse, CVC and Permira in a debt fuelled deal, is working around the clock with a consortium of more than ten banks to finalise terms of the £4bn debt repackaging. A deal is understood to be imminent and could close as early as the next fortnight.

The break up of Acromas would open the door for a float of over-50’s group Saga and Allied Healthcare, another group within Acromas, and a sale of car insurance company AA.

A float of both of the firms is thought to have been ruled out, as the mooted valuation – some £10bn – could be too large to get away.

Instead AA may take on the £4bn refinanced debt as a loan backed by revenue streams – a so called whole business securitisation – giving Saga and Allied Healthcare a cleaner run at getting the float away.

Acromas, led by Andrew Goodsell, is majority owned Charterhouse, with Permira and CVC Capital Partners holding further stakes of around 20 per cent. Management also has a holding of 20 per cent.

Market conditions appear ripe for the company’s plans, with equity markers surging in a bull run and stronger prospects in the corporate bond market, where most of the refinanced debt will end up.

Acromas director of communications Paul Green said: “We don’t comment on market speculation. We have made it clear that we will do something before September 2015 when the first capital repayment is due.”