Maxwells' Survival Plan To Seek a Freeze on Debt

LONDON -- The family of the late media tycoon Robert Maxwell will seek a temporary freeze on debt repayments as part of a survival plan now being drafted.

The family won time from its bankers on Monday with a presentation to 30 lenders that included a valuation prepared by Bankers Trust New York Corp. on the worth of various Maxwell companies.

Valuation Was Key

The valuation was a key element of the attempt by the Maxwell family to get lenders to agree to a temporary freeze on repayments of the $1.33 billion in outstanding debt.

Kevin Maxwell, chairman of Maxwell Communications Corp., said after the meeting that banks agreed to form a steering committee to look in a "level-headed way" at proposals put to them.

A spokesman for National Westminster Bank PLC, which is expected to chair the lenders' committee, said the meeting was frank and constructive.

Banks were "actively exploring the way forward," he said.

The meeting was held amid a building crisis at Maxwell Communications, whose stock has plunged 70% since founder Robert Maxwell died mysteriously at sea earlier this month. This decline has left major shortfalls in the collateral pledged to lenders.

Bankers Trust wouldn't publicly disclose details of its valuation of private Maxwell assets.

But bankers familiar with the report said the audit showed that private family interests had a gross worth $2.1 billion to $2.5 billion.

Bank lenders are expected to take several days to study Bankers Trust's valuation and the request for a moratorium.

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