Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Quebecor in Strife

Quebecor's CEO resigned on Monday in the wake of a failed recapitalization several weeks ago and on the heels of the collapse of their deal to sell their European printing operations. There is now heightened concern that the company could become insolvent in the short term unless their existing banks or primary shareholder provides some additional short term liquidity. There may be little expectation from the banking sector both because the company's access to revolving credit was reduced recently and analysts expectations that Quebecor will miss their liquidity covenants when they announce their next financial results.

Predictably, the markets have identified parties that could be circling the sinking ship and these include Donnelly and Transnational (Transnational have said they may only want parts) with some private equity companies for good measure. Another option is for Quebecor's primary shareholder Quebecor Inc. (35% of shares and 84% of voting) to take the company private. Certainly, if Quebecor Inc, stepped in they would want some assurances but their shareholders may not be happy with any type of rescue. Quebecor Inc's shares also dropped on news of Quebecor's problems.

From The Globe and Mail:
The company was once a money-spinning jewel in Pierre Karl PĂ©ladeau's Quebecor Inc. media and printing empire. Now, it is viewed as a drag on Quebecor, which has to decide whether it wants to throw it a lifeline or cut it loose by selling it or letting it fend for itself. At this point, it appears less likely that Quebecor World's banks will want to extend credit lines after having recently lowered the credit facility to $750-million from $1-billion, National Bank Financial analyst Adam Shine said in a research note. There would have to be assurances of help from parent Quebecor, but coming to the printing subsidiary's rescue appears "increasingly burdensome and certainly wouldn't sit well with [Quebecor] shareholders," he wrote.

While the sale of the European operations would not have generated a significant (less than $50mm) gain it would have eliminated a loss making drain on the company's resources. Coupled with the loss of their CEO (sixth in four years) and the failed recapitalization, Quebecor shareholders have bailed. Quebecor was at one stage the worlds largest commercial printer but failed management and misguided strategic leadership has left it light years behind industry leader Donnelly.

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