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Sobieski owner Belvedere taken over by bondholders in debt deal

Belvedere SA (BVD), the French maker of Sobieski vodka part-owned by Bruce Willis, will be taken over by its bond investors after a court approved a restructuring plan.
Holders of its 375 million-euro ($486 million) floating- rate notes due May 2013 will get 87 percent of the French spirits maker, according to a document from the Dijon Commercial Court. Shareholders will take the remaining stake, while investors owning subordinated debt have an option to buy the equity, the court said.
“My first decision as chairman was to focus on reducing the group’s debt. This is now done. The war is over,” Krzysztof Trylinski, Belvedere’s chairman and chief executive said in an e-mailed statement. “It’s an important day for Belvedere and its employees after four years of legal battle.”
Belvedere, which was 2.6 percent-owned by the Hollywood actor as part of an endorsement deal, filed for protection from creditors in July 2008 and has been in negotiations with lenders since then. In September it agreed to a plan that would see bondholders repaid using funds raised from asset sales as well as taking shares in the business.
The company got bids of 155 million euros for the assets being sold, half the targeted figure of 310 million euros, according to the document. The low prices meant the sales didn’t take place and bondholders took a larger stake in the company, the court said. Separately, Belvedere will sell its Danzka drinks brand for about 19 million euros to provide liquidity, it said.
Belvedere fell as much as 5 percent to 21.5 euros.
Bruce Willis, star of the Die Hard action movies, received cash and shares in Belvedere as part of a four-year deal signed in December 2009 to market the Sobieski brand. Belvedere’s brands also include William Peel whiskey and Marie Brizard liqueurs.

Source: Bloomberg