By  on June 25, 2009

MILAN — Safilo Group SpA said it expects to breach its debt covenants and is negotiating with banks to postpone a loan payment due later this month, as talks continue with potential suitors.

Safilo chief executive officer Roberto Vedovotto had hoped to secure a sale before the summer.

“In this context, considering the possible misalignment of the results at 30th June 2009, compared to the financial covenants of the existing senior loan, the company has also begun negotiations with the financing banks in order to request a waiver with reference to such covenants, as well as the postponement of a payment due on 30th June 2009,” Safilo stated late Tuesday. The Italian eyewear group’s majority shareholder, Only 3T SpA, is in talks with at least two private equity bidders, believed to be Bain Capital and PAI, to ease Safilo’s debts amid declining demand. As of March 31, Safilo had net debts of 617.7 million euros, or $861.2 million at current exchange. The Tabacchi family controls 39.9 percent of Safilo via Only 3T.

Also on Thursday, Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services downgraded Safilo’s corporate credit rating to “CC,” signifying “highly vulnerable to nonpayment,” from “CCC-plus,” while Moody’s Investors Service lowered its rating on Safilo to “Caa2,” meaning “very high credit risk,” from “B3.”

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