4 Dec 2008

Re-financing deal for investment company

12:31 pm on 4 December 2008

Australian investment firm Babcock & Brown has been thrown a financial lifeline by its banks, which have agreed to refinance its debts.

Shares in Babcock & Brown have fallen 99% since the beginning of the year.

The company has been in dispute with a bank over the release of a deposit and has been in talks with its banking syndicate on a restructure of its financing arrangements.

The new deal includes the suspension of all financial covenants under Babcock & Brown's two existing corporate facilities, and a $A150 million funding facility to meet its immediate funding needs.

But it means dividend payments will be suspended until the new short-term facility is repaid.

Babcock says it will also work with banks to restructure its capital base, and consider a potential debt-for-equity swap.

Assets for sale

Last month, Babcock & Brown put about half its asset base up for sale, and cut more than half its workforce over the next two years.

Babcock plans to focus entirely on its infrastructure business, and put its remaining real estate, leasing and corporate and structured finance arms up for sale.

However, analysts are sceptical the group will be able to sell the assets as quick as the banks would want.