Interserve tumbles into administration after shareholders reject rescue plan

16 Mars, 2019, 00:23 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • Interserve fears

Interserve has thousands of government contracts such as hospital cleaning, school meals and maintenance of military bases in the Falklands.

Troubled outsourcing company Interserve, one of the British government's biggest contractors, is set to go into administration later on Friday after its shareholders rejected a rescue plan.

However, it would mean the company could continue trading and avoid the same fate as rival Carillion, which collapsed early a year ago with a massive debt pile.

Interserve said: "The board of directors of the company is convening an urgent board meeting to consider its options". An expected pre-pack arrangement managed by EY would keep public services running smoothly for the immediate future, meaning jobs will not be lost.

Interserve investors include RBS, HSBC and BNP Paribas - together with Emerald Asset Management and Davidson Kempner Capital.

Under the rejected plan, aimed at slashing a near-£650 million debt mountain, the group had been proposing a debt-for-equity swap with its lenders that would have resulted in existing investors seeing their holding slashed to just five per cent.

Interserve fears
Interserve looks set to avoid a Carillion-style collapse

Interserve's shareholders voted 59 percent against a debt-for-equity rescue package at a general meeting in central London on Friday, in a victory for its biggest shareholder, United States hedge fund Coltrane, which owns a 28 percent stake and had opposed the plan.

The collapse has sparked anger from the unions.

Interserve's Plc subsidiaries will remain solvent in this process, providing continuity of service for customers and suppliers, said Interserve.

The investor demanded EY conduct a comprehensive marketing process for the firm and its assets while raising the possibility it would explore a takeover bid.

Kevin Brandstatter, GMB national officer, said: 'Ministers have learnt absolutely nothing from the Carillion fiasco and are hell-bent on outsourcing public-sector contracts. Workers will be expected to continue working normally unless specifically told otherwise'. It is unclear how civil servants at the Cabinet Office, which was in regular contact with the firm as it drew up the original rescue deal over Christmas, would feel about a U.S. hedge fund overseeing British public services.

'We are in close contact with the company and we are confident a positive way forward will be found'.

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