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Thomson Becomes Technicolor

PARIS: Thomson SA shareholders approved of the company’s debt restructuring plan today that renames the company “Technicolor,” the parent of the Grass Valley division announced. Shareholders approved several resolutions, including one proffered last month to reduce the company’s debt of €2.8 billion (US$3.9 billion) by 45 percent. The plan also includes a capital injection of €348 million (US$491 million), a €1.3 billion (US$1.8 billion) debt-for-equity conversion, and a bond buy-back provision.

Thomson sought protection from the French government last year in an effort to fend off creditors it was unable to pay. It was granted this sauvegarde, or “safeguard,” status last November. It filed Chapter 15 in a U.S. bankruptcy court last month to protect its American assets. Around 47 percent of its 2008 revenues were generated in the United States.

The French media giant put the Grass Valley and digital signage divisions up for sale last February when it also warned of breaching loan covenants. Reuters reported that Thomson Chairman and CEO Frédéric Rose said at today’s shareholder meeting that the company was “still in talks about these asset sales.”

Thomson will officially become Technicolor on Monday, Feb. 1, and trade on the New York Stock Exchange Euronext Paris under the symbol “TCH.” The role of chairman and CEO will also be separated under a new executive structure when the company emerges from sauvegarde next month.

Today’s vote was cast at a scheduled meeting of ordinary and extraordinary shareholders chaired by Rose, with senior management and the Thomson board in attendance. American Deposit Receipts of Thomson’s stock fell nearly 4 percent in today’s trading to US$1.37. -- Deborah D. McAdams

December 22, 2009: “Creditors Clear Thomson for Restructure
Grass Valley parent corporation Thomson SA won the approval of the third and final group of creditors for its bankruptcy plan.

November 30, 2009:“Thomson Prepares for Restructuring
Grass Valley parent corporation Thomson SA said it would announce its debt restructuring plan some time today.

April 29, 2009: “Thomson Scores on Breach Waiver
Thomson said its creditors have granted it a waiver, giving the company until June 16 to restructure its 2.9 billion euro ($3.8 billion) debt due April 30.

March 10, 2009: “Thomson Drops on Loss
Thomson today posted a net loss of 1.9 billion euros ($2.4 billion U.S.) for 2008, compared to a loss of 23 million euros for the previous year ($33.8 million).

February 25, 2009: “Grass Valley Exec: We’ll Be Around
Grass Valley will take care of customers through its divestiture from Thomson, a company executive said this week.

February 2, 2009: “Thomson Cuts Grass
Thomson (NYSE:TMS) is putting Grass Valley up for sale. The Parisian tech giant today said the board approved divesting the division, along with its Premier Retail Networks digital signage business.