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Good news for UPC

Dutch court opens road for debt restructuring

AMSTERDAM — The Dutch attorney general’s office has advised the Supreme Court of the Netherlands to dismiss an appeal by a creditor that would block United Pan-Europe Communication’s (UPC) badly needed debt-restructuring plan.

The office of the procureur general has advised the high court (Hoge Raad) that all grounds for the appeal of InterComm Holdings (ICH), which has filed a claim against UPC for 1 euro ($1.13) are without merit. The court is being asked to overturn a decision by a Dutch court of appeals handed down earlier this year which also ruled against ICH.

The attorney general’s office is independent of the Supreme Court and its recommendations are often followed by the high court.

While UPC said it expected the Supreme Court decision to be handed down “expediently,” in fact there are not likely to be any deliberations on the matter until mid- to late August, when the summer holiday period is over in this territory.

The restructure, which has been approved by a majority of bondholders, will eliminate two thirds of an $11.8 billion debt UPC built up in its heyday when it went on a frenzied multimillion dollar buying spree of cable properties around Europe.

In the restructure plan, UPC’s parent company UnitedGlobalCom would increase its share of UPC from 53% to 66% in a debt for equity swap. UnitedGlobalCom is controlled by John Malone’s Liberty Media.

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