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Ocado Says No Threat to Lending Covenants, Banks ‘Supportive’

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Nov. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Ocado Group Plc, the U.K. online grocer, said it is not in immediate danger of breaching its lending covenants.

“Ocado is not about to breach its covenants,” the company said in an e-mailed statement. “We have reiterated this for months. Our banks know this and remain supportive of our business model and plan.”

The Sunday Times reported that the company is in talks with its lenders, without saying where it got the information. The report said that the covenants require Ocado’s net debt to be less than 3.5 times earnings, and Ocado was asking its banks to reset the covenants or waive the test altogether.

A spokeswoman for Ocado declined to comment on whether the company was in talks with its banks.

Ocado’s sales growth slowed in the third quarter, rising 9.9 percent from a year earlier compared with 12 percent in the first half. Chief Executive Officer Tim Steiner said in September that the company will consider selling and leasing back a warehouse if necessary to avoid breaching debt covenants. Steiner said at the time that Ocado wasn’t close to a covenant breach.

To contact the reporter on this story: Schuyler Clemente in London at sclemente1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dick Schumacher at dschumacher@bloomberg.net

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