French drinks company Belvedere strikes creditor deal

French drinks company Belvedere strikes creditor deal
Photo: Kuba Boanowski
Troubled French drinks company Belvedere, the maker of Sobieski Vodka and Marie Brizard liquor, said Thursday its creditors have approved a plan to restructure more than €500 million in debt.

The company, which has been under bankruptcy protection for four years, said that a sufficient majority of creditors had approved the plan, with would see the firm sell off some assets and settle the remaining debt with shares.

If Belvedere can't get a sufficiently good price then creditors could be paid off completely in shares.

Shareholders, which include US actor Bruce Willis for his promotion of Sobieski Vodka, have to vote on the deal by March 20th, 2013.

But some investors apparently didn't like the prospect of a huge dilution of their shares, with the stock dropping 16% to €56 in mid-afternoon trade.

While company officials called the agreement a "milestone" in the company's restructuring, Belvedere's court-appointed administrator warned the drinks maker is not out of the woods.

"The creditors have accepted considerable sacrifices: but it won't count for anything if the shareholders don't follow," Frederic Abitbol told AFP.

He said if the deal is rejected by shareholders it is highly likely the company would be liquidated with the loss of many jobs.

Belvedere employs 3,650 people, including 750 in France.

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