Scarcely did our article on Air Atlanta Inc.'s zero-coupon takeoff appear ("A Deal for All Seasons," January, page 105) than Daniel H. Kolber's phone lit up. Kolber, the company's executive vice-president, was one of the architects of the unusual deal wherein the new airline raised some $19 million of start-up capital by selling zero-coupon convertible debentures to insurance companies -- thus financing itself with long-term, interest-free, unsecured debt that could be handily paid off as equity when and if the company did well.
Although the deal was complicated, it turned out to be a proposition that appealed to a large number of INC. readers, many of whom did not hesitate to dial for details. Kolber estimates that he has received more than 300 phone calls from eager fund-seekers (including at times as many as 15 per workday) -- not to mention stacks of letters and requests for relevision interviews.
Kolber's advice? "Don't get discouraged. There aren't people standing around out there waiting to buy zeros. You can't say, 'I need money. Would you be kind enough to accept a zero coupon?' First you have to get interest in a deal, then come in with the zero concept. Don't always go to the top of an investing source; start as the middle echelon. Most of all," sympathizes Kolber, a toughened veteran of Air Atlanta's early-round searches, "keep trying."
Difficult as it may be to pull off such a collateral-less loan, Kolber believes that some of the packages he was told about are promising, ranging from several for $1 million or $2 million to one for a whopping $50 million, sought by a Canadian corporation. However those may have fared, at least one more zero-coupon deal was closed this past winter -- for an estimated $10 million, between Equitable Life Society of the United States and Air Atlanta, Daniel H. Kolber attending.
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