ow, after months of talks mezzanine lenders – led by Apollo and including Goldman Sachs, Cerberus and Park Square – have secured a deal to win control of 100 % of the company's equity, leaving the private equity owners with virtually nothing. Under the structure, executive chairman Neil Goulden, who had been expected to step down, has signed a binding contract to stay on and oversee its progression to a public company.
The deal will cut Gala's debt burden from us$ 3.9 billion to us$ us$ 2.8 billion with mezzanine lenders swapping us$ 820.7 million of debt for a 30% stake and injecting us$ 303.9 million to take control of the remaining 70%. The former owners will receive a 1 to 5% tip for consenting to the deal and management could end up with 10pc depending on performance.
Goulden said: "It is 99.9% certain that this deal will be agreed. Documents will be sent out tomorrow and are expected to be signed and returned by April 1," he said adding that the only risk came from the outgoing private equity firms who are out of the money and are being pushed aside. "If they do not play ball, we will be forced to put the company into a pre-pack administration. Everything will still get done – but it will take longer."
Insiders suggested that political pressure would prohibit the buy-out firms from making public moves that could damage a UK business with more than 18,000 employees. Under its new ownership the top company structure would move off-shore to Luxembourg, to protect the off-shore status of the new mezzanine investors.
Along with Goulden there will be six board positions, four taken by a representative from each of the mezzanine investors. The extra two seats have not yet been decided. "It is an incredible company that has been over-burdened by its balance sheet. We have out-traded Ladbrokes, William Hill and Rank, making us$ 509.1 million of profit last year. I see no reason why we will not be able to meet our timetable for going public."