Polestar "in advanced talks" on pre-pack

By Jo Francis, Wednesday 23 March 2016

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Polestar could pre-pack again according to a Sky News report.


Polestar: set to pre-pack again?

The broadcaster said that the £216m turnover print group and its new owner, Proventus Capital Partners, had engaged PriceWaterhouseCoopers to advise on a deal and were in "advanced talks".

Polestar has pre-packed before – in 2011, following a similar cash crisis to the situation that engulfed the group before Christmas, it was sold to Sun Capital Partners in a pre-pack deal that allowed it to jettison a £38.5m pension liability, while still paying its trade creditors.

At the time Polestar’s then chief financial officer Peter Johnston told PrintWeek that without keeping the trade creditors whole, the business would have been likely to fail. For this reason a CVA had not been viewed as a viable option.

Apart from trade creditors, the finance deal for its three new Goss web presses is among Polestar’s largest current liabilities. Polestar UK Print has a $25.5m (£18m) charge on its accounts which relates to a lease agreement with Shanghai Electric Europa Leasing and Standard Chartered Bank (China).

Since Swedish investment group Proventus took over the ownership of Polestar in December the company has installed four of its own directors to Polestar’s board. It loaned Polestar £90m a year ago.

Sky News reported that Proventus was expected to emerge from any pre-pack as the controlling shareholder.

Polestar’s financial year ends on 30 September. Its results for the year to 30 September 2015 have not yet been filed, and are widely expected to be poor, due to the huge costs associated with the disruption the group experienced in the pre-Christmas trading period in 2014 when it absorbed the Time Inc UK work at the same time as its new web presses came on stream. The group lost £14.5m on sales of £216.4m in 2014.

Proventus said it had no comment to make on the Sky News report or its content. 

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