Healthcare Locums hits back at funds

THE public spat over the finances of medical hiring firm Healthcare Locums deepened yesterday as the company issued a searing attack on some of its major shareholders.

Healthcare Locums is battling a group of its investors including US investment funds Arundel Capital and Permian Investment Partners that have expressed their horror at a plan to raise £60m through a highly dilutive share placement to repay large debts.

Investors led by Arundel have threatened to veto the plan at a meeting on 12 September and claimed that a high-profile US investment fund may be interested in buying the debt as an alternative means of settling the issue.

But HCL’s board hit back at Arundel’s opposition yesterday, accusing it of spreading “misleading” information about the options open to the board.

“The board considers that the correspondence from Arundel presents a misleading impression of the company’s present situation,” the company said in a statement.

“The Board has received no other concrete proposal for the restructuring of the group’s indebtedness which would provide the opportunity to maintain any shareholder value.

“In the event that the board receives a workable superior alternative restructuring proposal which addresses the relevant time constraints it will, of course review the position.”

But sources close to the investors defended their stance, saying the US fund interested in buying HCL’s debt had made an indicative offer and needed only some financial information from the board to table a concrete proposal.

The board has said its proposal is the only viable way for HCL to repay £130m of bank debt that is costing it millions in fees, and allow it to re-list its shares on the AIM market.

But it would issue 600m new shares, more than half of which would be bought by one investor, Toscafund, and drastically cut the holdings of investors in the 113m shares currently in circulation.