ELDERS managing director Malcolm Jackman has met potential buyers for the company's struggling rural services division as he scrambles to sell the business to repay debt.
The Australian Financial Review reports Mr Jackman insisted Elders's relationship with its financiers is strong - despite a tightening of the leash over its financing on Friday, when the company revealed a fresh debt package had been secured but with heavy restrictions placed on the group.
Elders's financiers – Rabobank, ANZ, NAB, Commonwealth Bank and Rural Bank – have prohibited the company from repaying dividends or paying a distribution to hybrid holders until it repays its syndicated debt and have demanded "milestones" over the sale of assets. Elders's net debt at September 30 was $295.3 million. Its borrowings were $385.8 million.
Mr Jackman said Elders and its advisers, Greenhill, were planning to put an information memorandum together for its rural services business by Christmas. He said Elders had identified 75 to 80 parties that could be interested in buying its rural services arm. It would send a "pre-warming" document to those parties, containing about a dozen pages of publicly available information about the business.
Mr Jackman said he had been already approached by 40 players regarding the sale of the business. One group was interested in buying the entire company, he said.
Under the terms of Elders's new debt package, which included an additional $60 million to fund its operations, new covenants have been set.
Mr Jackman said the covenants related to key milestones around "activity" regarding the sale of its businesses. "The relationship with our banks is outstanding," Mr Jackman said. "We continue to have their full support."
He said the financing would fund its operations until the expected completion of its Futuris Automotive division and Elders Rural Services. Sources said the additional funds were about half of what Elders had wanted to secure.
Analysts are concerned shareholders could be left with little from the carve-up of its assets once the banks and hybrid holders are repaid.
Elders' facilities were due to expire on December 31 and in its September 30 accounts its auditors warned about its capacity to continue as a going concern due to the uncertainty of its facilities and the likely values it could achieve for its assets.