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Pret A Manger Seeks $576 Million Loan to Refinance, Pay Dividend

Pret A Manger, the sandwich chain owned by Bridgepoint, is seeking 375 million pounds ($576 million) of loans to refinance debt used to finance its 2008 buyout and pay a dividend to shareholders.

Lenders are invited to a meeting in London on July 2 for the financing underwritten by Bank of Ireland, BNP Paribas Fortis SA, HSBC Holdings Plc, ING Groep NV, Rabobank International, Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc and Societe Generale SA, the banks said today in a statement.

The refinancing comes as Pret A Manger, whose name means “ready to eat” in French, continues its expansion outside of the U.K. and is looking at its balance as the retailer is “under-leveraged”, Chief Executive Officer Clive Schlee said on April 22 in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “The Pulse”. Sales grew 17 percent to 443.1 million pounds last year while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization rose to 61.1 million pounds from 52.4 million pounds.

“The refinancing shows that Bridgepoint is recommitted to the business for its next stage of growth,” James Murray, a spokesman in London for the private-equity firm said in a telephone interview.

Pret A Manger is raising a 40 million-pound amortizing term loan, a 265 million-pound term loan with a payment at maturity, a 30 million-pound revolving credit, and 40 million pounds of capital expenditure facility, according to the statement.

Higher Leverage

The deal will increase the company’s total debt to 4.17 times its Ebitda from less than 2 times in 2012, the lenders said in the statement.

The financing will reduce the company’s interest expense by a third and provides about 100 million pounds of capital for expansion in the U.S., Europe and China, Murray said.

Pret A Manger shareholders will get about 150 million pounds for a dividend as a result of the financing, according to a person with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.

Murray declined to comment on the size of the dividend payment.

Bridgepoint bought the company from founders Sinclair Beecham and Julian Metcalfe and McDonald’s Corp. for 345 million pounds.

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