Russia's Rusal seeks court approval for $3.6 billion debt deal
MELBOURNE/MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian aluminum giant Rusal (0486.HK) has won another reprieve from lenders, extending a deadline to refinance $3.6 billion in debt to the end of October while it seeks court approval for a debt restructuring that is being blocked by a few creditors.
Without the deadline extension, the world's largest aluminum producer, whose earnings have been hit by a slump in aluminum prices, would have faced default on July 7.
"We are pleased that efforts to refinance our debt portfolio have attracted such significant lender support. We are disappointed, however, that these have not been supported by a very small minority of lenders," Rusal Deputy Chief Executive Oleg Mukhamedshin said in a statement on Friday.
Rusal said 94 percent of lenders had backed the restructuring, but in the absence of unanimous support it would apply to the courts in England and Jersey to approve a scheme of arrangement to implement the debt deal.
According to Rusal, schemes of arrangement through UK courts have become an important restructuring tool. "It prevents a few hold-outs from frustrating the will of a large majority of a company's creditors," the company said.
Two foreign creditors are yet to agree with the deal, Mukhamedshin told reporters on a conference call. He did not name them.
He expects the legal procedures to take a couple of months and hopes to be ready to sign the refinancing deal in September. The deal will revise the terms of its $3.6 billion syndicated debt, including extension of the repayment period to 2018 from 2016, he said.
"With signing of these amendments our schedule of loans repayment will fully meet our most conservative financial model," Mukhamedshin added. Rusal's net debt stood at $10.3 billion at the end of March.
Rusal has been booking losses due to the drop in aluminum prices, which have only recently bounced off 4-1/2 year lows as global producers have cut output in face of a glut stoked by China.
Its shares have soared nearly 60 percent this year on the prospects of an improvement in the market and a resolution to its debt woes.
"Rusal is in a stronger negotiating position now that the market environment has improved for it since the beginning of the year. The banks should be relatively comfortable with the refinancing," said Vadim Astapovich, a metals and mining analyst at VTB Capital.
Rusal said its applications were expected to be heard by the High Court Of Justice in London on July 10 and by the Royal Court Of Jersey on July 15.