Yell explores options for its £2.8bn debt pile

City A.M. Reporter
Yellow pages publisher Yell will meet its lenders at the London Stock Exchange tomorrow to announce a strategic review of its business as it works to tackle a £2.8bn debt pile, bankers told Reuters.

The debt-laden directories business is unlikely to announce specific debt options at the meeting and is not expected to reveal further details until after its financial results are announced on July 20, the bankers said.

Yell will then open a formal dialogue with lenders, which are expected to form steering committees over the summer. Financial advisers are lining up to pitch to both sides and a formal process is expected to start in September, they added.

Yell declined to comment.

Yell is battling competition from a host of new online services offering local information, and from Internet giants such as Google.

The company had net debt of £2.83bn at end-March.

The troubled business has already been talking to its major lenders. Amending and extending its loans is not currently seen as a viable option as it would still be hard for the company to service its debt, bankers said.

Other options include a full restructuring in a consensual debt-for-equity swap. Restructuring in the US under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection has also been discussed, a banker familiar with the matter said.

Restructuring bankers view a full restructuring as better for the company than a piecemeal restructuring of some or all of the business.

Two investors have already taken the decision to sell Yell's loans in the secondary loan trading market. Traders said that the sellers were UK and Irish banks.

The sales pushed the price of Yell's loans down to 35 per cent of face value today from 37 per cent on Tuesday, according to Thomson Reuters LPC data.

Yell announced plans to expand its online operations through a tie-up with Microsoft on Tuesday which boosted its share price.

The company's shares have closed at 11p.