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Orco starts talks on capital increase

Orco Property Group, which last month was given court protection from creditors, has started talks with US investment group Colony Capital on a €25 million ($33.13 million) capital increase, the developer said on Thursday.

Orco said the capital increase, in the form of 5 million shares with warrants reserved for Colony, could come by the end of the Q2. The shares will be priced at €5 a piece, below the market price of €7.74 in Paris and CZK 203.50 in Prague on Thursday. Another €140 million could be raised when its creditor protection finishes.

Orco’s board has also proposed that all shareholders would be granted one free warrant for every two existing Orco shares, allowing shareholders to buy one new share at the same price as Colony.

The debt-strapped central European real estate group has seen the value of its properties fall and has had to renegotiate debt as the global downturn hammers it core markets.

A Paris court granted the Luxembourg-registered Orco six months of protection from creditors at the end of March, which is extendable by up to a year. It has said it needed to refinance €310 million of debt maturing over the next 12 months, which analysts said may lead to massive share dilution.

Orco’s founder and CEO Jean-Francois Ott, under fire from some minority shareholders, told Reuters this week the group would focus on debt restructuring during the court protection and aims to avoid a fire sale of assets. Orco was holding an annual general meeting on Thursday in Luxembourg but the capital hike was not on the agenda.

Orco shares have dropped 85% in the past 12 months in Prague but have recovered 38% since receiving creditor protection.

Ceska Sporitelna analyst Petr Bartek said that if the entire €165 million increase came through the share dilution would be limited. “The dilution is not so bad because the book value would be above the current share price,” he said. (Reuters)