U.K.’s Towergate Bonds Plunge on News of Takeover Bids

By Julie Miecamp | November 19, 2014
Towergate Finance plc’s high-yield bonds plunged to a record after Europe’s largest insurance broker said it received takeover offers.

The company’s 304.6 million pounds ($475.5 million) of 10.5 percent notes fell 16 pence on the pound to 45 pence, the biggest one-day drop since the securities were sold in February 2011, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Towergate’s 248.6 billion pounds of 8.5 percent bonds issued at the same time declined 4.4 pence to a record 80.5 pence, the data show.

Towergate received “approaches from parties interested in potentially acquiring the group,” the Maidstone, England-based provider of non-life insurance brokerage services said in a statement today. Towergate said it appointed Evercore Partners Inc. and Rothschild as joint advisers to help assess the proposals.

“Whilst there can be no certainty that these approaches will result in a sale, it is our responsibility as a board to evaluate them thoroughly,” said Alastair Lyons, interim executive chairman at Towergate. “Whilst the market environment for our core clients remains challenging, Towergate continues to deliver very strong operating margins.”

The company’s operating earnings fell to 95.9 million pounds in the nine months ending Sept. 30, a 14 percent drop from the previous year, according to the statement. Operating cash flow declined 22 percent to 66.5 million pounds during the same period.

Towergate is rated Caa2, or eight steps below investment grade, by Moody’s Investors Service. Fitch Ratings ranks the company three levels higher at B.

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