Two major media conglomerates appear to have addressed some of the debt concerns dogging them in the market.
AOL Time Warner
said Monday afternoon that it had closed two new credit facilities totaling $10 billion in available funds to replace other bank credit facilities maturing later this year.
Meanwhile, reports out of Paris indicated that
, facing a cash crunch more troubling than any of AOL Time Warner's debt concerns, had obtained a billion-euro credit line from its banks.
The reported transactions come as investors -- spooked by the recent revelations at debt-encrusted communications outfits such as
-- remain on high alert regarding the debt of any media and communications company.
In late morning trading, shares of AOL Time Warner rose 2.5% to $14.35, while Vivendi Universal's shares dropped 1.5% to $17.60.
Among investors in AOL Time Warner, whose stock is down 72% from its 52-week highs, weakened online advertising and uncertain cable valuations pose greater concerns than the company's leverage and access to cash. The company has often stated in recent months that it will protect its investment-grade debt ratings, and investors have had little reason to doubt the company.
But in these nervous times, it doesn't hurt to reassure investors prematurely. Of interest to Wall Street, AOL Time Warner notes that the new facilites contain no ratings-based defaults or covenants, nor an ongoing covenant "specifically relating to a material adverse change" in AOL Time Warner's financial condition or operating results -- a clause that has threatened Vivendi Universal's credit lines in recent weeks.
In contrast to AOL Time Warner, Vivendi Universal
faces a cash crunch this month which the credit line, as reported by
The Wall Street Journal
, should help to resolve. A Vivendi Universal spokeswoman didn't return a call requesting comment on reports of the new credit line.
But the French set isn't out of the woods just yet. Even if the credit line and other possible loans come through for Vivendi Universal, the company still faces the challenge of selling assets and restructuring to cut its long-term debt.