Saturday , September 26 2020

Eddie Stobart Investors Face Long Trips Under DBAY Rescue Agreement | Business news



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Shareholders who bought into one of Britain's largest logistics companies when they flew two years ago saw savage depreciation of their investments as part of a controversial bailout.

Sky News has learned that Eddie Stobart Logistics' proposed bid from its former controlling shareholder, DBAY Advisors, would have a huge discount on the price at which its shares were suspended in August.

City sources said the DBAY proposal would include a written stock issue, which would result in a majority stake in Eddie Stobart, the freighter known for its distinctive red and green trucks.

The precise structure of the deal is unclear, but it will require a shareholder vote to approve it.

Details were still being finalized on Tuesday night.

One source described Eddie Stobart's existing equity as "practically worthless" and said the DBAY proposal was considered "a rescue proposal to save thousands of jobs".

Shares of the company were suspended at 71 pp – and gave a capital value of almost £ 270m – when it was discovered that the accounting scandal had resulted in investors being misled about the true balance of his balance sheet.

Eddie Stobart has been trying to finalize his semi-annual results since the summer.

However, after promising to release them in September, the figures have yet to emerge.

The lack of accurate information on its finances is said to undermine rival Vincenton's ability to bid firmly for the company.

Vincenton was set to bid on Friday, though it was unclear whether such a bid would appear given Eddie Stobart's chaotic performance.

A proposal by DBAY's heavily discounted bid to take control of Eddie Stobart will be structured as a sale and purchase agreement and will include a commitment to fund the company's operations, according to insiders.

It would also leave the listed business on the stock market, they add.

Such a deal would be highly controversial, however, as DBAY raised a huge surprise when Eddie Stobart floated at 160p-a-share in 2017.

It would also be controversial because the independent shareholders who in the future had a minority stake in the company would have little influence on its management, finances or operations.

DBAY still owns just over 10% of the company.

Eddie Stobart's lenders recently prepared them at Alvarez and Marshall (A&M) to advise them on potential restructuring.

Any proposal to refinance the company will not be able to proceed without the support of lenders.

Deloitte is working with bankers in Rothschild on discussions with her lenders.

Eddie Stobart had net debt of about £ 155m in the half-yearly phase, with the company potentially facing administration if the banks did not support bailout.

A vehicle controlled by Andrew Tinkler, a former boss of Stobart Group, owner of Southend Airport, is working on an alternative refinancing proposal that is said to be backed by a number of independent shareholders.

DBAY Advisors bought 51% of Eddie Stobart from the Stobart group when Mr Tinkler ran the combined entity five years ago.

Eddie Stobart's descent into crisis has brought down its chief executive, Alex Laffy, and the installation of Sebastian Desmarex as his temporary successor.

The latest twists add to the continuing intrigue over Stobart's name.

Last year, Tinkler was dismissed as director of the Stobart group before filing a legal case for reinstatement, accusing the board of stalling votes to keep him on hold.

Subsequent to the bitter legal battle that revealed Tinkler had breached his director's duties, but also resulted in Stobart withdrawing the claim that he had made irregular expenses claims.

Mr Tinkler has a significant stake in the city after delivering a 261% total shareholder return during his ten-year tenure as head of the united Stobart group.

His acrimonious departure has not diminished his desire to play a role in the future of the two companies named Stobart.

Mr Tinkler still owns about 5% of the Stobart group, which has operations in aviation, energy and infrastructure.

To complicate matters, the Stobart Group also has an economic interest in its former sister company.

The Eddie Stobart crisis was among the factors in the troubles of former star fund manager Neil Woodford, whose investment firm owns more than 20% of the company.

Eddie Stobart, DBAF and Vincenton declined to comment, while Tinkler could not be reached.

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