Mexico's Cemex gains breathing room on debt payment (Photo : Flickr )
Mexican cement maker Cemex moved closer on Tuesday to wrapping up an ambitious refinancing deal to push back payment of $7.2 billion of debt, and also announced a planned asset sale that would give the company much-needed breathing room.
Cemex said the vast majority of creditors had signed up for a debt swap that would also spread the payment burden over two years instead of one, news that boosted its shares 2 percent both on the Mexican stock exchange and in New York.
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The company also said it was looking to sell a minority stake in a Latin American unit, but did not give details of the size of the stake to be sold.
Investors have been anxious to hear specifics of planned asset sales by Cemex, which committed to pay down $1 billion in debt by the end of March 2013 as part of the debt exchange offer.
One of the world's biggest cement companies, Cemex was swamped by the 2008 U.S. housing meltdown shortly after paying out about $16 billion to buy Australian peer Rinker. It has been working its way out of deep debt obligations for the past three years.
In June, Monterrey-based Cemex SAB de CV (CMXCPO.MX)(CX.N) offered creditors a deal that called for a debt exchange, possible asset sales, a prepayment and revised financial covenants in a bid to push back the impact of the looming hit from debt obligations.
Cemex said some creditors had agreed to swap about $470 million worth of debt for new high-yield notes as part of the broader refinancing deal. The maximum offered in these instruments, which mature in 2018, was $500 million.
Cemex also said about 90 percent of lenders had said they were willing to participate in an exchange of the rest of the debt, pushing the maturity back to 2017, a rate that already allows the company to move ahead with the deal.
"This pretty much puts Cemex on the finish line of the most important financial refinancing in years to come," said Banorte-Ixe analyst Carlos Hermosillo in a report. "It considerably improves its maturity and risk profile and ... combined with the expected improvement in the operating performance of its U.S. unit, we reiterate our buy recommendation on Cemex."
The company also said it would give creditors an extra two weeks, until September 7, to decide whether to participate in the debt exchange. While the company aims to close on that date, the deadline could be extended again, Maher Al-Haffar, Cemex's vice president of corporate communications and investor relations, told Reuters.
The June deal also proposed amortizations of $500 million on February 2014, $250 million on June 2016, and $250 million on December 2016.
Al-Haffar said the company was still studying which assets, if any, could be sold as part of the refinancing deal but declined to elaborate. Management has floated the idea, a first for the company, of selling minority stakes in some countries to raise cash for next year's $1 billion paydown.
Cemex said later on Tuesday that it would look to list shares in its Cemex Latam unit in Colombia and offer a private placement to investors outside of that country. The Cemex Latam unit would include assets in Central and South America but not Mexico, the company said.
The new agreement will contain revised financial covenants too, which keep tabs on the company's cash generation versus its funded debt, or the sum included in a 2009 refinancing deal.
Cemex shares were up 1.9 percent at $7.89 in New York at midday on Tuesday. The stock was up 2.3 percent at 10.32 pesos ($0.79) in Mexican trading.