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Germany's Adler to seeks debt extension after selling thousands of homes

·2-min read

By Matthias Inverardi and John O'Donnell

(Reuters) - Adler Group, one of Germany's biggest landlords, hopes to extend repayment of 600 million euros of debt to German banks, after selling roughly 30,000 apartments and other property, its co-chief executive told Reuters.

The two giant sales this month mark the latest attempt by the embattled company, whose shares have crashed since it was targeted last year by short sellers critical of its business transparency and finances, to strengthen its standing.

Maximilian Rienecker, co-CEO of Adler Group told Reuters that the property sales meant it had cut its debt but that it would nonetheless seek to extend repayment on bank loans due in the coming two years.

"We have mainly local banks with whom we have extended debts with in the past," said Rienecker, referring to an extension of repayment on 600 million euros ($688 million) of debt. "We are in talks about this."

He said that alongside this bank debt, 1.1 billion euros of bonds will be due over the coming two years and that these could be settled by issuing new bonds or be otherwise repaid.

Earlier on Thursday, Adler announced the sale of roughly 14,400 homes and commercial properties, its second such sell-off in as many weeks.

In December, credit rating agency Standard & Poor's flagged concerns that such sales trimmed its portfolio of rental property, increasing dependence on longer-term development projects that are typically risky.

It then assessed Adler's rating outlook as negative, indicating a heightened risk of a rating downgrade, because the company's development projects were uncertain. It is unclear whether this stance could change following the sale.

Moody's withdrew its rating for the company early last year but did not say why.

Rienecker rejected Standard & Poor's criticism.

"We will not have the net rent but, on the other hand, we are reducing our debts," he said.

He said the group would still have 30,000 apartments, two thirds of which are in Berlin, as well as property development projects.

Rienecker said he expected that a special audit of the company's affairs by KPMG, following the allegations of fraud by a short-seller, would be concluded and announced during the first six months of this year.

Adler Group said it would receive net cash proceeds of 600 million euros ($686 million) from the sale announced on Thursday to private-equity firm KKR.

The company said the sale would help it reach a goal of having a loan-to-value ratio, an important yardstick of its debt burden, of about 45%.

Earlier this month, Adler announced a similar sale of more than 15,500 properties to LEG Immobilien.

($1 = 0.8740 euros)

(Writing by John O'Donnell; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Bernadette Baum)

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