Daily News: March 22, 2012

Diamond Foods Reaches Forbearance Agreement With BofA, Others

Diamond Foods, Inc. announced the company has reached an agreement with its lenders to amend its credit agreement. Under the amended agreement, Diamond, working with its current bank group, will have continued access to its existing revolving credit facility through June 18, 2012 subject to Diamond’s compliance with the terms and conditions of the amendment.

During this period, Diamond will continue to make scheduled term loan payments. Also, Diamond continues to make progress with its restatement and is pursuing actions with its financial advisor, Dean Bradley Osborne, to explore capital alternatives to strengthen the company’s balance sheet.

The bank group includes Bank of America as administrative agent, swing line lender and L/C issuer, Barclays Capital, Cooperatieve Centrale Raiffeisen-Boerenleenbank (Rabobank Nederland), New York Branch and Bank of Montreal, as joint syndication agents, and Banc of America Securities LLC and Barclays Capital, as joint lead arrangers and joint book managers.

“I am pleased to have reached this agreement with our lender group,” said Rick Wolford, Diamond’s Interim President and Chief Executive Officer. “This agreement enables Diamond to continue to work through our restatement process and with our financial advisor to develop capital alternatives to strengthen Diamond’s balance sheet and reduce leverage. Also, during this period, Diamond will continue working to rebuild our walnut grower relationships, to take steps required to ensure Diamond’s competitiveness and ongoing success in the walnut industry and, importantly, to continue to successfully support the growth of our snack brands.”

The amendment requires Diamond to suspend dividend payments to stockholders. The interest rate on borrowings under the facility will increase by 75 basis points. In addition, Diamond has agreed to pay a one-time forbearance fee of 25 basis points to its lenders.

Separately, Bloomberg reported that Diamond Foods is seeking out private equity firms to buy a minority stake in the company. Proceeds would be used to raise capital and improve its balance sheet, the article said, and added that Diamond has approached private equity firms KKR & Co. and TPG Capital.

Diamond Foods is a packaged food company focused on building, acquiring and energizing brands including Kettle(R) Chips, Emerald(R) snack nuts, Pop Secret(R) popcorn and Diamond of California(R) nuts.

To read the Bloomberg article in its entirety, click here.