1 December 2016 – Expansión
A judge from the Commercial Court in Barcelona has dismissed the lawsuit filed by GSO, one of the funds owned by Blackstone, and by Goldman Sachs against the legal agreement approved for the refinancing of FCC‘s debt. As a result of the agreement, the construction company had managed to refinance a tranche of its debt (€1,350 million) at a significant discount (but GSO and Goldmans opposed the deal).
Although the refinancing was backed by 93% of FCC’s creditors, Blackstone and Goldman Sachs opposed the operation and appealed to the courts for damages caused amounting to around €295 million. The judge has now rejected their claim, which cannot be appealed to a higher court.
In January 2015, the Commercial Court of Barcelona validated the judicial approval, which allowed the Spanish construction company to apply a discount and reduce the cost of a tranche of its corporate debt amounting to €1,350 million.
The law firm Linklaters advised FCC in the financial restructuring process and has defended the interests of the construction group against the lawsuit filed by the funds. Uría also acted on behalf of the banks (Bankia, BBVA and CaixaBank), who participated in the lawsuit as a party affected by the appeal, whilst a lawyer from Jones Day defended the interests of GSO and Goldman Sachs.
93% of the banking syndicate accepted the new financing conditions, which basically involved accepting a discount of 15% through the repayment of debt amounting to €900 million using €765 million raised during the company’s most recent capital increase. The outstanding loan balance, around €450 million, is being repaid at (an interest rate of) 5%.
The opposing creditors included overseas investment funds such as Blackstone (GSO) and credit institutions such as Burlington and Ice Focus. The foreign banks included Goldmans, Barclays, Credit Suisse and Merrill Lynch, amongst others. GSO and Goldmans ended up taking the case to court, but the judge has ruled against them.
The claimants tried to link the lawsuit in Barcelona with an appeal in London where another group of FCC creditors has filed a case for the early repayment of their investment through the issue of convertible bonds amounting to €450 million because they considered that the Spanish company had breached one of the suspensive clauses of the contract relating to the non-payment of debt (default). Blackstone (through GSO Capital) was one of the London-based claimants. Given the legal protected afforded to bondholders in London, FCC was obliged to suspend the process to convert bonds amounting to €32.75 million.
In the ruling in Spain, the judge in Barcelona rejected the existence of a link between the resolution regarding the early execution of the bonds and the validity of the restructuring of FCC’s debt.
Original story: Expansión (by C. Morán and G. Trindade)
Translation: Carmel Drake