February 20, 2012 / 1:17 PM / in 6 years

Four Seasons Health Care in talks to refinance debt, raise

(Reuters) - Four Seasons Health Care is not trying to sell itself, as media reports suggested, but is in talks to renegotiate debt and raise new equity, a spokeswoman for Britain’s biggest care home operator told Reuters.

The Sunday Times had reported that Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-Shing’s CK Life Sciences (0775.HK) may bid for the company.

Four Seasons Health Care is considering refinancing loans, raising new equity from existing and new investors, or a combination of these options, to ensure it has adequate funds before its debt matures in September.

In 2009, Four Seasons Health Care halved its debt by exchanging it for equity -- a deal that resulted in the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L) taking close to a 40 percent stake in the company.

The maturity of the remaining debt -- about 780 million pounds ($1.23 billion)-- was extended to September 2012.

“We have a high level of interest being shown in the group by potential lenders and by potential new investors,” the spokeswoman said.

She did not provide any detail on how much equity the company was planning to raise or who the potential investors were.

The company is being advised by Rothschild and Gleacher Shacklock.

A debt agreement -- expected to be in place by May -- would likely put an end to negotiations that began in 2008, when the global financial crisis struck.

About two years before that, Qatari investment firm Three Delta bought Four Seasons Health Care from private equity firm Allianz Capital Partners for 1.4 billion pounds in a highly leveraged deal.

Four Seasons Health Care operates about 445 care homes and 61 hospitals, according to its website. Its 2011 earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization was about 100 million pounds.

It became UK’s biggest care home operator after the collapse of rival Southern Cross in late 2011.

Reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi; Editing by Don Sebastian

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