Cazoo bondholders take steering wheel with $630m debt-for-equity swap

Lenders to Cazoo, the British-based on-line automobile retailer, will take management of the corporate’s shares as a part of a deep monetary restructuring anticipated to be introduced inside days.

Sky News has learnt that Cazoo was on Tuesday placing the ending touches to a $630m debt-for-equity swap that can go away Viking Global Investors, a US-based fund, as its largest shareholder.

Sources near the automobile retailer’s bondholders mentioned an settlement might be introduced in New York, the place it’s publicly traded, this week and probably as early as Wednesday.

The transaction, which will even contain $200m of latest borrowing amenities being put in place, is designed to put Cazoo on a sustainable long-term footing after two turbulent years as a listed firm.

The enterprise, based and run by the Zoopla founder Alex Chesterman, one in every of Britain’s most profitable entrepreneurs, quickly scaled its profile by sponsoring outstanding sports activities groups equivalent to Aston Villa and Everton, the Premier League soccer golf equipment.

It additionally signed offers to connect its model to darts and snooker, amongst different sports activities.

The debt restructuring is anticipated to boost questions on Mr Chesterman’s future, with one debtholder saying on Tuesday night that he might step down as chief govt as soon as the brand new capital construction is in place.

One noteholder mentioned that whereas shareholders confronted ache from monumental dilution of their pursuits, they might be better-placed as a result of the corporate would have a steadiness sheet positioned for future development.

It would additionally scale back money curiosity prices on Cazoo’s remaining debt whereas giving current shareholders warrants based mostly on its future efficiency.

The deal is known to be topic to approval from remaining bondholders in addition to shareholders.

Since its launch in late 2019, Cazoo has bought greater than 150,000 used vehicles with an mixture worth of £2.5bn, competing aggressively with rivals equivalent to Cinch, owned by Constellation Automotive Group.

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Prior to its merger with a particular function acquisition firm (SPAC) which took it public, Cazoo raised a whole bunch of tens of millions of kilos from buyers together with the ventures arm of the Daily Mail writer, the Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund Mubadala and General Catalyst, a number one tech investor.

In worth phrases, nevertheless, its 2021 merger with Ajax I proved to be disastrous for shareholders.

Originally valued at $7bn after the mixture, it has misplaced practically all its worth and on Tuesday was buying and selling with a market capitalisation of simply $38m.

Like many different development firms which went public by SPAC mergers, it has suffered from the souring of sentiment in the direction of loss-making tech firms in more difficult financial occasions.

Some, such because the British digital GP service Babylon Health, have been pressured into insolvency inside years of itemizing.

Last month, Cazoo reported a sturdy working efficiency, saying it had additionally recognized scope for an additional £20m of money financial savings by subsequent 12 months.

The firm additionally has practically £200m of money on its steadiness sheet.

Cazoo has pulled out of European markets to deal with the UK, whereas it has additionally sought to cut back its money burn by scaling again its array of sponsorships.

Goldman Sachs is known to be advising Cazoo, with PJT Partners advising the noteholders.

Cazoo was contacted for touch upon Tuesday night.