GNV agrees $740m debt refinancing
GENOA-based ferry company Grandi Navi Veloci, which has been struggling for years under the weight of heavy interest payments, has renegotiated ?555m ($740.3m) in debt with a consortium of 15 domestic and international banks led by Italy"s Mediobanca. The company declined comment on the terms of the refinancing.
As part of the latest arrangement, the three private equity firms which control the company ? Investitori Associati (67%), IdeaCapital (20%) and Charme (9%) ? have subscribed to a ?30m capital increase.
Management hold the remaining 4% of the company.
GNV was founded by Italian shipowner Aldo Grimaldi, whose family finally exited the company last year after gradually selling down its stake at a considerable profit.
Under the control of private equity firms ? Permira sold out to the current trio for a significant gain a little over three years ago ? the company has had difficulty gaining traction in a highly competitive market, in part because of high interest payments on its substantial debt.
Over the last two years, chief executive Silvano Cassano and managing director Ariodante Valeri have worked to cut costs, restructure the fleet and open up new routes, primarily between southern Europe and North Africa, which they see as having great potential.
They have also been seeking out partnerships, recently tying up a code-sharing arrangement with Corsica Sardinia Ferries on routes where the two companies do not compete. Executives from both GNV and CSF have suggested that closer co-operation, perhaps on new routes, may well follow.
Competition in the western Mediterranean remains tough, however, despite steady growth on core routes connecting mainland Europe with Corsica and Sardinia, and there is widespread expectation that, with state-subsidised Tirrenia now up for privatisation, the long-awaited consolidation of this over-tonnaged market will get under way soon.