Salmones Austral gets USD 40 million loan to finance investment plan
Los Ángeles, Bio Bio, Chile-based salmon farmer Salmones Austral has reached an agreement with three banks for a USD 40 million (EUR 35.5 million) loan to continue with its USD 100 million (EUR 88.2 million) investment plan for the next three years, the company announced in a release.
In early May, the salmon farmer got approval from Chile’s financial market regulator, CMF, to register its shares in the securities register – the last regulatory step needed before listing on the stock exchange and launching an initial public offering. A company source told SeafoodSource that the bank loan will not replace the IPO, but will allow the firm to continue with the proposed investment plan. Given the current situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, the public offering will be held off until market conditions improve.
"When the crisis ends, we must be prepared for the new scenario in the salmon industry, in which efficiency and sustainability will be key factors to compete in the markets in which we are present," Salmones Austral Vice President Christian Samsing said in the statement. He highlighted the company’s long-term vision and commitment to the development of the salmon industry in Chile.
The syndicated loan – underwritten by the Norwegian bank DNB, Rabobank, and local bank Banco BCI – complements a USD 20 million (EUR 17.6 million) revolving line of credit that Salmones Austral has with the same three banks. The new funding will go towards the Los Arrayanes recirculation plant the company is building in the town of Llaguepe, in Region X, and which should be operational in 2021. The resources will also be used to finance Salmones Austral’s joint venture with Nova Austral in Region XII, which began operations in early April.
Further, it was decided at the latest shareholders' meeting that the payment of dividends would be suspended during 2020, with the resources saved going to support the firm's strategic investment plan.
Salmones Austral saw net losses of USD 5.9 million (EUR 5.2 million) during the first quarter of the year, compared to profits of USD 11 million (EUR 10 million) in the same quarter of 2019. Sales in metric tons actually increased during the quarter, but lower sale prices dragged revenues down.
Salmones Austral was created in 2013 after the merger of Trusal and Pacific Star. Today, it has annual production of some 45,000 to 50,000 MT, exported to more than 20 countries, with more than 1,400 workers operating in two process plants and 20 freshwater and seawater farming centers in the regions of Maule, Biobío, La Araucanía, Los Lagos, and Aysén.