De Beers wraps up $1bn rights issue

The diamond producer says it has concluded a refinancing of its debt facilities after being battered by the downturn

Source: Mineweb

LONDON (Reuters)  – 

Top diamond producer De Beers has wrapped up a refinancing of debt facilities and a cash injection of $1 billion from a rights issue to cut debt, after being battered during the downturn.

The group, 45 percent owned by miner Anglo American, said on Tuesday it has cut debt by nearly a third. It did not give a figure, but in February the company said it expected net debt to fall to around $2 billion.

“As we emerge from the recession in 2010, the completion of the refinancing process enables De Beers to take advantage of a number of exciting opportunities for growth up and down the diamond pipeline,” Chief Executive Gareth Penny said.

The first quarter has been “encouraging” since demand is recovering and revenues have risen at the first three sales events of the year, a spokeswoman said.

De Beers had a total of $3.0 billion of international loan facilities, of which $1.5 billion were due to expire this month. All the new facilities have been renewed until 2012, with an option to extend them for another year, De Beers said.

Full rights for the $1 billion fund raising were taken up by all three shareholders, Anglo, South Africa’s Oppenheimer family, which holds 40 percent, and the government of Botswana, with the remaining 15 percent stake.

De Beers, which controls around 40 percent of the rough diamond market, was hit hard during the downturn as consumers shied away from luxury goods.

The group moved to an underlying loss of $220 million in 2009 after underlying net profit of $515 million in 2008, while rough diamond sales tumbled 46 percent to $3.2 billion. (Reporting by Eric Onstad; Editing by Rupert Winchester)

© Thomson Reuters 2010 All rights reserved

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