Atlas Mara Limited, a sub-Saharan African financial services group listed on the London Stock Exchange, has disclosed that it is in talks with creditors to achieve a comprehensive debt restructuring.
Atlas Mara said recently that it is in talks with the principal holders of $81 million of convertible bonds due Dec. 31 and other creditors “regarding a range of options to address the upcoming debt maturities.”
In a press release seen by Nairametrics, Atlas Mara revealed its strategy of engaging its creditors on negotiating new terms of its loans was ongoing. Its bonds fell due on 31 December 2020. Atlas Mara is the majority shareholder of Nigeria’s Union Bank Plc.
Atlas Mara earlier reported in December that it had “entered into a standstill agreement with certain creditors in respect of the Company’s and ABC Holdings Limited (“ABCH”)’s financing arrangements (the “Standstill”). Creditors representing over 87.7 percent of the aggregate amount outstanding under bilateral facilities of the Company and ABCH agreed to enter the Standstill or similar bilateral agreements. The Standstill was also entered into by over 60 percent of the principal holders of the Group’s convertible bonds due 31 December 2020.”
The Standstill agreement gives Atlas Mara “sufficient time for engagement” between it and its creditors to reach an agreement over its debt and that of its subsidiary ABCH’s debt. The Standstill Agreement also allows the creditors who signed up to it not to exercise “certain rights, or otherwise take actions, in respect of rights and repayments that may arise under the convertible bonds and bilateral facilities as a result of the Group not making principal and interest payments, until and including the earlier of 31 March 2021 (unless extended) and termination of the Standstill” it explained in the press release.
Creditors demand payment, as one takes Atlas to court
As discussions continue with holdout creditors and other bilateral lenders, Atlas disclosed that lawyers acting for TLG ATMA Limited, one of its holdout creditors, have filed an application with the High Court of Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, British Virgin Islands pursuant to section 159, section 162(a) and section 162(1)9b) of the Insolvency Act 2003.
“A small holdout creditor, TLG, has filed a Court application against the Company. The Company sees TLG’s actions as both hostile and detrimental to the interests of the Company and its creditors, including TLG itself. A number of significant creditors have, since TLG’s application, reaffirmed their support for the Company and intend to assist in contesting TLG’s actions.” Atlas Mara
Nairametrics understands TLG Capital, a private equity firm is seeking for liquidation of Atlas Mara to enable it to recover its $10.8 million loans including interest and other costs.
According to Atlas Mara, TLG and two other creditors “did not agree to enter into the Standstill or similar arrangement with the Company, notwithstanding the benefits of the Standstill to the Company’s creditors as a whole.”
What you should know
- Atlas Mara has total long-term debt of about $373 million dollars.
- Atlas Mara is in talks with Access Bank to sell its BancABC and other African assets of the pan-African banking group.
- Access Bank Plc is interested in Bob Diamond’s Atlas Mara’s businesses in Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Zambia.
- TLG Capital has also rebuffed Atlas Mara’s claims.
Note: This article was updated to reflect new information.