US and UK firms line up to thrash out Almatis takeover

Mike Francies

Private equity house Oaktree has instructed regular adviser Kirkland & Ellis on the debt-for-equity swap, with London-based co-head of restructuring Kon Asimacopoulos leading a team from the US firm.

Weil Gotshal & Manges London head Mike Francies has been drafted in to advise DIC on the restructuring proposal.

Linklaters banking head Robert Elliott and banking partner Bruce Bell are advising Almatis in Europe, while Gibson Dunn & Crutcher partner Michael Rosenthal is advising the company on the US aspects of the restructuring.

In 2007 Linklaters Dubai partner Scott Campbell led a team of lawyers from Dubai and London that advised DIC on its acquisition of Almatis. Private equity partners Ian Bagshaw and Richard Youle led the advice in the UK.

The acquisition required almost $1bn of debt, but the company breached the terms of its loans on the first half of this year.

Under the terms of the proposed restructuring DIC is offering junior lenders a 40 per cent stake in Almatis in a debt-for-equity swap. DIC would inject $50m and retain a 60 per cent stake.
However, Oaktree, which was originally going to team up with DIC over the restructuring, is opposed to the plan.

Oaktree, which is reported to have purchased a third of Almatis’ $680m senior debt, now has a large enough stake to block the deal. It is expected that the private equity house will come up with its own restructuring plan for ­Almatis.

Allen & Overy (A&O) and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer have also won roles on the complex deal, with A&O partner Ian Field leading a team advising ­senior lenders UBS, ­Commerzbank and Bank of ­Ireland.

Mezzanine lenders, including Babson Capital, Permira and Alcentra, are being advised by Freshfields partner Chris Howard.