Wild Bunch Group has sealed a €110.7 million ($129.5 million) financial restructuring plan with its creditors, including SWB Finance B.V., a company owned by Wild Bunch’s biggest German shareholder, Lars Windhorst.
Approved Tuesday by a Paris commercial court, the agreement will allow Wild Bunch to reduce its debt – which stood at €74.7 million as of mid-2017 – by €54.6 million, or about $64 million, according to a statement issued by the company.
SWB Finance, which belongs to Windhorst’s Sapinda Group, is to inject a total of €62.7 million into Wild Bunch, out of which €36.6 million will be converted into debt-relieving shares in the company. Owners of the €18 million in corporate bonds issued in 2016 will also see their bonds converted into shares.
And investors will provide Wild Bunch with shareholder loans of at least €30 million, to help the company ramp up acquisition of new content.
As a result of the restructuring deal, SWB Finance will own a 76% stake in Wild Bunch, while the existing shareholders, notably company co-founders Vincent Grimond, Brahim Chioua and Vincent Maraval, will hold about 9%. The former bond holders become shareholders with a 15% stake.
The plan will be submitted to a vote by shareholders during their next meeting, which is expected to take place Sept. 20.
At this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Wild Bunch won the Palme d’Or for Hirokazu Kore-eda’s “Shoplifters,” as well as an honorary Palme d’Or for Jean-Luc Godard’s “The Image Book,” the Jury Prize for Nadine Labaki’s “Capernaum,” and the Directors’ Fortnight’s Art Cinema award for Gaspar Noe’s “Climax.” But the storied company has been struggling financially for months.
Wild Bunch CEO Vincent Grimond said in a statement that the restructuring deal marked “the culmination of a long-term plan which provides the company with enough resources to intensify its strategic evolution. In this fast-changing environment, and despite its focus on refinancing considerations, Wild Bunch has succeeded in developing its TV offering and in creating strong relationships with digital platforms around the world.”
Grimond added that “the financial stability offered by Sapinda will enable Wild Bunch to pursue new market opportunities and to build on its considerable assets as a leading pan-European content provider.”
Windhorst said Sapinda was pleased to provide Wild Bunch with a “financial solution” through “this injection of equity capital, alongside a debt restructuring.”
“An independent film champion like this with so much heritage, requires stability and support to initiate a new phase of profitable growth,” Windhorst said.
Windhorst and Sapinda have been embroiled in several lawsuits over alleged failure to honor business agreements. Windhorst raised €500 million in a bond issue last September to help him settle outstanding suits and repay existing debts. His recent acquisitions include luxury Italian lingerie maker La Perla. Sapinda has offices in London, Berlin and Amsterdam.
Over the last couple of years, Wild Bunch worked with private Paris bank Lazard to look for financial solutions and held discussions with several potential investors and buyers, including Butler Capital Partners and Bruno Ledoux Holding Media, according to industry sources.