Banks plan to buy HCL debt

TWO bulge-bracket investment banks are in talks with the bank lenders to troubled medical staff provider Healthcare Locums over buying its debt pile, City A.M. has learned.

The plan is the latest twist in the company’s efforts to repay £135m of debt as it struggles to unpick accounting irregularities, over which its founding chief executive Kate Bleasdale (pictured) resigned in February.

The two investment banks are negotiating with two Australian banks, National Australia Bank and Commonwealth Bank, which provided the debt last December, weeks before HCL’s board announced a probe of its accounts.

City A.M. understands the talks may conclude in the next week and would see the investment banks buy the debt at close to its full value.

Permian Investment Partners, a 6.5 per cent shareholder, said it “like other shareholders, is supportive of the investment banks’ negotiations to acquire Healthcare Locums’ debt, since these negotiations appear to recognise the company’s value as an operating business and its bright commercial future.”

The talks overtake another plan to repay debt by raising £60m through a share placement to a group of investors.

That appears not to have been concluded by the named close date of 11 August. HCL denied it had to pull a fundraising but would not comment further.