TORONTO -- Embattled Olympia & York Developments Ltd., declaring itself cash-poor but asset-rich, called on its bankers yesterday to defer interest and principal payments on billions of dollars of debt over the next three months.
It also chose Gerald Greenwald, a former Chrysler executive, as its new president to lead it through a restructuring.
The highly secretive real estate company, the biggest commercial landlord in North America, held an unprecedented meeting with representatives from nearly 100 banks in a hotel ballroom here.
Because of its size and the impact of its operations on financial markets, the company's problems have attracted global attention. Bank stocks have been battered in recent weeks on rumors that lending institutions may have to take heavy losses on their Olympia loans.
But Olympia, controlled by the Reichmann brothers of Toronto, argued yesterday that if the banks went along with its plans, they would all get 100 cents on the dollar.
Olympia "is asking in some cases for extensions of times on maturities; it is asking in some cases for additional advances of loans to give it more time, but it is not asking lenders to take a
haircut," said Robert S. Miller Jr., a banker who led the restructuring talks for Olympia.
The company opened some financial records, showing that it has a net worth of about $4.7 billion. Bankers said Olympia's debt is $18.5 billion to $19 billion.
Bankers left the meeting tight-lipped. But they later said it had been productive.
Under questioning by reporters yesterday after the meeting, Mr. Miller acknowledged that if bankers refused to go along, "it is possible that the company would have no choice but to go through a series" of bankruptcy filings in countries where it does business.