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Banks Back Adria Restructuring Plan

Ljubljana, 06 January (STA) - Creditor banks have endorsed the financial restructuring plan of state-owned Adria Airways, which will get a short-term bridging loan to the tune of EUR 3m to 4m, Radio Slovenija reported on Thursday.

The money will be used to pay foreign suppliers and help Adria through the slow winter season, according to chairman Maks Tajnikar.

"If Adria does not get short-term loans, it will lack short-term operating support, which in turn would increase debt to suppliers," he said. Adria owes suppliers, mostly foreign companies, about EUR 30m.

It was also decided at the meeting with banks that domestic suppliers will be included in the restructuring; they have already been informed about the operating and financial restructuring programme.

The programme involves recapitalisation with the conversion of claims to capital, deleveraging, loan reprogramming and labour cost cuts. Employees have already agreed to 20% salary cuts.

Reports suggest that banks are ready to participate in the capital increase, but they want to get guarantees that Adria would be sold in the next phase.

German carrier Lufthansa, a fellow Star Alliance member, is seen as the best match for Adria, but there have been reports that Middle Eastern carriers have also expressed interest.

Tajnikar said today that talks with potential foreign investors were under way, adding that Adria was counting on tighter ties with Lufthansa.

Adria's debt stands at EUR 130m, of which EUR 80m is outstanding bank loans, according to the daily Dnevnik.

Other companies with significant claims include airport operator Aerodrom Ljubljana and fuel retailer Petrol, which supplies the kerosene.

Adria posted a net loss of EUR 13.5m in 2009 on sales that dropped by a fifth to EUR 161.4m. In the first half of this year operating loss stood at EUR 7m.

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