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Horizon Lines offers refinancing deal

August 29 - Horizon Lines has entered into a definitive agreement and secured commitments from holders of more than 99 percenr of its 4.25 percent convertible senior notes due in 2012 to move forward with a modified transaction that will refinance the com

The shipping line, which operates the largest domestic US ocean fleet and a service between China and the USA said it is asking bondholders to swap USD330 million in convertible senior notes for new debt and equity and said approval will allow the carrier to finish a USD655 million refinancing by the end of September, following completion of the exchange offer.

Horizon Lines said the modified agreement will completely recapitalise the company and eliminate the refinancing risk related to the maturity of the existing convertible notes and the existing bank debt in 2012. It also provides liquidity to fund continued operations through a new asset-based revolving loan (ABL) facility. Additionally, the note holders have committed to provide the company with access to a USD25.0 million bridge loan to serve as a liquidity cushion through the completion of the recapitalisation. The recapitalisation also provides for the immediate deleveraging of the balance sheet through a USD50.0 million debt-for-equity exchange, and creates the opportunity for additional deleveraging of USD280.0 million through the early conversion of the new convertible secured notes to be issued in the exchange offer.

The agreement with the note holders will effectuate a comprehensive refinancing in conjunction with the new ABL facility of USD100.0 million. Commitment for the ABL, arranged through Wells Fargo Capital Finance, LLC, has been signed and the transaction is scheduled to close in conjunction with the completion of the convertible notes exchange offer. The ABL facility matures in five years from the date of closing.

Assuming full participation in the exchange offer, holders of the 2012 convertible notes will own approximately 950f the company's stock on an as-converted basis following the exchange offer.

Bondholders appear to be caught between a rock and a hard place. If they reject the exchange offer, the company said it is likely to "seek bankruptcy relief" in which case bondholders seem likely to lose their entire investment. 

Horizon Lines owns or leases a fleet of 20 U.S.-flag containerships and operates five port terminals linking the continental United States with Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, Micronesia, and Puerto Rico. In addition to the 
provision of an express trans-Pacific service between the U.S. West Coast and the ports of Ningbo and Shanghai in China, the line carries heavy and over-dimensional cargo using flat-racks and other specialised equipment on its vessels calling Hawaii and Alaska.

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