Interserve rescue plan leads to 75% plummet in shares

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Shares in Interserve – one of the UK’s largest providers of public services – have lost more than 75% of their value after it revealed it is seeking a rescue deal.

The contractor, which works in prisons, schools, hospitals and on the roads, has £500m of debts and says its rescue plan will involve issuing new shares.

Interserve’s shares fell to 6p in early trading, giving it a market value of less than £9m. At its peak in 2014, the shares were worth more than 700p.

On 9 December, the company said it was “making good progress” on a rescue plan.

But, it added that current investors could see the value of their stake in the company slashed, in what it called a “material dilution for current Interserve shareholders”.

The rescue plan is expected to involve the conversion of a large chunk of Interserve’s debts into new equity, parts of which may be sold to existing shareholders and potentially other investors. This “could result in material dilution for current Interserve shareholders”, the firm said.

It would be the second refinancing this year, after worsening trading forced the company, which employs 75,000 people around the world, to seek a deal with its lenders in March.

Interserve’s troubles have ignited fears that the debts could send the company into a similar fate that it’s former rival Carillion suffered.

The Labour party has urged the Government to consider a temporary ban on Interserve bidding for public contracts while it works out its rescue plan.

Detailing its rescue plan, Debbie White, CEO of Interserve said: “We are making good progress on our deleveraging plan which we expect to announce early in 2019. Our lenders are supportive of the deleveraging plan which will underpin the long term future of Interserve.

“Our refinancing in April of this year contemplated the development of a deleveraging plan in consultation with our stakeholders and the liquidity injected at that point also gave us the funding to execute our business plan.

“Our discussions with our lenders are a positive step in the process that was agreed as part of the April refinancing. The Cabinet Office has also expressed full support for the work we are doing to implement our long term recovery plan.

“The fundamentals of our business remain strong. The deleveraging plan will give Interserve a strong long term capital structure and provide a solid foundation on which to build the future success of the Group.”

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