Energy giant Abengoa shares soar with viability plan hopes

Shares in Spain's troubled flagship renewable energy giant Abengoa rose sharply on Monday as the board considered a viability plan designed to stave off bankruptcy by creating a smaller and leaner operation.

Energy giant Abengoa shares soar with viability plan hopes
Photo: AFP

The board met to examine the plan late afternoon, an informed source said.

With participants locked in discussions on how to turn Abengoa around before putting the proposal to banks, shareholders and suppliers, the company's class A shares climbed 50.81 percent in Madrid to close at €0.56 while class B shares advanced 34.8 percent.

Abengoa, one of Spain's leading lights in sustainable energy, has been racing against the clock to avoid one of the country's biggest ever bankruptcies amid reports it needs €90 million (95 million) of emergency liquidity by the end of the month.

The Seville-based firm, seeking to sell off non-core business, filed from protection from creditors in November with a March 28th deadline to exit legal pre-insolvency after a hoped for rescue failed to materialise.

The current plan would see debt driven down to some three billion euros from a current nine billion.

Abengoa's main bankers and the ICO public credit institute agreed to extend a bridging loan of €106 million for December salaries but demanded the group pare down debts and slash outlay.

Media reports say a new slimmed-down Abengoa would see sales fall by three fifths from €7 billion in 2014 and gross operating surplus halved from €1.4 billion in 2014.

Expansion financial daily indicates it expects the group to hive off some €1.5 billion of assets but retain its engineering capacity.

Abengoa, 87 percent of whose sales are generated outside Spain, is expected to retreat notably from Brazil but also, media reports in Spain predict, from Costa Rica and Turkey.

But it looks determined to hang onto the jewel in its crown, its US Abengoa Yield offshoot recently rechristened Atlantica Yield, which boasts a portfolio of renewable energy, power generation, water and electrical transmission assets and a giant solar plant in Arizona.

Abengoa holds a 41.9 percent stake in the US-based firm quoted on Wall Street and worth around $1.8 billion.  

Analysts await the outcome of the viability talks with interest.

“In the past, the firm did not manage to finance its investments through its profits nor its working capital need and it is not certain it will manage to do so with debt reduction,” said Maxime Kogge, analyst with Spread Research.

Abengoa employed 28,700 staff as of the end of September, some 7,00 in Spain.

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