White & Case aids UPC with bankruptcy protection

White & Case is advising United Pan-Europe Communications (UPC), Europe's largest cable television company, on its application for bankruptcy protection in the US and the Netherlands, as part of a restructuring agreement with creditors and bondholders.

The deal forces the company's largest creditor and shareholder, UnitedGlobalCom (UGC), and a bondholders' committee to accept an agreement to convert e5.2bn (£3.28bn) of debt to equity.

UPC was one of the largest high-yield issuers in Europe and the high-yield financed growth of cable businesses has come to an abrupt end, with a number of high-profile restructurings currently underway.

The immense size of this debt-for-equity swap makes the deal notable, as does the dual system bankruptcy filings. The company is filing under Chapter 11 in the US and pursuing a Dutch Akkoord process in the Netherlands.

Shearman & Sterling recently advised Dutch telecoms network company Versatel on a smaller deal involving bankruptcy filings in the US and the Netherlands.

White & Case, too, is active in a number of large bankruptcies, particularly in the energy industry in the US, involving the energy crisis in California and the knock-on effect of the Enron bankruptcy. The firm is one among many jostling to instruct debt-laden telecoms companies on life-saving restructurings.

Gene Schneider, UGC's chairman and chief executive, claims that the recapitalisation will provide UPC with a strong balance sheet at a time when the company's operations are achieving good financial results.