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Hal Waives Threshold on Safilo Debt

11th-hour modification should allow eyewear firm Safilo to avoid default.

MILAN — Safilo Group SpA escaped bankruptcy on Monday as Hal Holding NV said it had accepted 50.99 percent of the troubled Italian eyewear maker’s tendered notes.

The Amsterdam-listed Hal waived the minimum 60 percent tender threshold and said it had reached an agreement with Safilo and Only3T SpA, which holds a 39.9 percent stake in the company and is controlled by the Tabacchi family, to acquire an equity interest in Safilo ranging from 37.23 percent to 49.99 percent. Hal will proceed with the cash settlement on Friday and the acquisition of Hal’s equity interest in Safilo is expected to close in the first quarter of 2010.

The commencement of the tender offer allows Safilo to avoid default and a likely bankruptcy and permits a restructuring of Safilo to proceed.

Safilo, which produces eyewear collections under license for brands such as Giorgio Armani, Gucci and Dior, approved a recapitalization plan on Oct. 19, whereby Hal would inject new equity and pay off some of the eyewear maker’s debts in return for a stake of between 37.23 and 49.99 percent.

According to the plan, Hal, which holds a 2.08 percent stake in Safilo, would purchase all outstanding 195 million euro, or $290.9 million, high-yield notes due 2013 for 60 percent of their nominal value and restructure Safilo’s senior debt facilities with its main financing banks.

In November, Hal Holding NV twice pushed back the provisional deadline for holders of Safilo securities to tender their notes.

At the end of September, Safilo’s net debts totaled 586.3 million euros, or $874.8 million.