Becton debt woes force bank talks

TROUBLED developer Becton Property Group has placed its shares into a trading halt with the company struggling to meet its debt obligations to US investment bank Goldman Sachs and vulture fund Fortress Investment Group.

TROUBLED developer Becton Property Group has placed its shares into a trading halt with the company struggling to meet its debt obligations to US investment bank Goldman Sachs and vulture fund Fortress Investment Group.

The announcement was followed by the damaging resignation of director Andrew Kerr, who is the managing director of significant shareholder Telopea Capital Partners.

It's the latest in a series of setbacks for the residential developer and retirement village operator, which has been fighting off demands for greater control from major investors Mariner Corporation, Titanium Property Investment and Telopea.

"A trading halt is being sought in relation to discussions with Becton's corporate debt provider relating to waivers and consents under the corporate debit facility," Becton announced on Friday.

Becton is expected to be locked in discussions with Goldman Sachs and Fortress over the weekend. Unresolved breaches of the debt agreement could allow them to call in the loans, pushing the 36-year-old company into receivership.

Goldman Sachs and Fortress bought $242 million worth of corporate and project debt at a discount from Bank of Scotland in early January, sparking a trading halt for Becton.

Last week, Becton announced that it expected to post a net operating loss of between $2 million and $3 million for the half year.

The forecast for the statutory net loss after tax is $10 million to $12 million.

Before the latest development, shareholders were set to meet next month to weigh in on moves by Mariner, Telopea and Titanium to gain more control over the company. They are expected to face tough opposition from the board and its creditors.

Becton chief executive Matthew Chun did not respond to requests for a comment.

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