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Market downgrades Evraz on cashflow concerns

Evraz shares fall 6.4 percent in London as it announces shareholders can receive part of div in new shares.

Shares in Evraz Group fell on Wednesday after the company said stockholders could receive part of their interim dividend in discounted shares to enable the Russian steel maker to preserve cash.

At 1453 GMT the London-listed GDRs were off 6.4 percent at $10.2 having earlier fallen as much as 18.9 percent as analysts voiced concerns about Evraz’s cash flow.

The new shares will be issued at $22.50 each, or $7.50 per GDR, about 31.2 percent below the closing prices on Dec. 16.

Michael Kavanagh, a metals and mining analyst with Uralsib, calculated that if all investors accept the shares the total number of GDRs could increase by 10 percent.

“On one hand, the part shares offer, saving $276 million in cash could imply that cash is in short supply and raise some concerns,” Kavanagh said.

“On the other, the fact that the company is paying a $750 million cash dividend in this environment is a very positive sign regarding the health of the balance sheet and cash position of the company.”

The original first half dividend, announced on Aug. 26, proposed a cash payout of $8.25 per share or $2.25 per GDR.

Under the new proposal, shareholders will still receive $6.00 per share or $2.00 per GDR in cash by Dec. 18 with the remaining $2.25 per share or $0.75 per global depository receipt (GDR) available in the new shares.

“The board believes that the proposal offers shareholders an attractive partial scrip dividend alternative,” Evraz said in a statement on Wednesday.

“Any resultant cash saving will further strengthen the company’s financial position in the current challenging economic and market environment.”

All shareholders of record as of Sept. 18 are eligible for the dividend. They will be asked to vote on the proposal at a Jan. 30, 2009 extraordinary general meeting (EGM).

The company did not say when shareholders will receive the remaining portion of the payout.

Evraz built up considerable debt in recent years through acquisitions in Africa, Europe and North America. Its $2.3 billion purchase of Canadian steel pipe maker IPSCO earlier this year has saddled the company with a sizeable short term debt load.

The group in November obtained $1.8 billion in credits from state-owned VEB to refinance debt.

VEB, or Vnesheconombank, has been entrusted by the Kremlin to distribute a $50 billion rescue package to help Russian companies refinance a total of $120 billion in Western loans by the end of 2009. (Reporting by Alfred Kueppers; Editing by David Cowell and Elaine Hardcastle)


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Evraz seeks funding from VEB

Russian steel maker Evraz Group has requested a $1.8 billion loan from state bank VEB to refinance debt incurred to acquire Canadian steel pipe maker IPSCO, Vedomosti business daily reported on Tuesday.

The newspaper said another Russian steel maker, Mechel , had also prepared a request to VEB for a loan and that Severstal, the country’s largest steel maker, was considering a similar plan. It did not specify the amounts.

Vedomosti quoted several unnamed sources in the banking sector and close to the steel companies. Evraz and VEB declined to comment, it said. Evraz was not immediately available for comment when contacted by Reuters.

State-owned VEB, or Vnesheconombank, has been entrusted by the Kremlin with the task of distributing a $50 billion rescue package to help Russian companies refinance a total $120 billion of Western loans by the end of 2009.

The first payouts were approved last month. United Company RUSAL, controlled by billionaire Oleg Deripaska, secured a $4.5 billion loan to repay debt incurred to help buy a one-quarter stake in Norilsk Nickel.

Alfa Group, controlled by another billionaire, Mikhail Fridman, secured a $2 billion loan to help it pay back a loan to Deutsche Bank and rescue its stake in mobile phone firm Vimpelcom , which was used as collateral with the bank.


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