Airports of Mozambique Plans to Reorganize $500 Million Debt

  • The state-owned company’s debt has government guarantees
  • Metical’s weakness against the dollar stifled ability to repay

Airports of Mozambique plans to restructure loans of $500 million after a slide by the nation’s currency against the dollar undermined the state-owned company’s ability to repay loans, its chairman said.

The southern African nation has said it is in the process of restructuring another $535 million loan extended to state-owned Mozambique Asset Management after the company failed to meet a $178 million interest payment last month. The government admitted in April that it had hidden $1.4 billion in debt from investors.

“Last year we achieved an operating profit, but because of the exchange rate and its impact, we had losses,” Chairman Emmanuel Chaves told reporters in the capital, Maputo, on Wednesday.

The metical depreciated by 32 percent against the dollar in 2015 and has extended that loss by a further 16 percent this year. S&P Global Ratings, which estimates Mozambique’s net general debt at 90 percent of gross domestic product this year, and Fitch Ratings in May lowered the country’s credit assessment, saying the nation was at a greater risk of default.

The loans, which were backed by state guarantees, were taken in order to build or modernize four airports, including those in Pemba and Tete towns, Chavez said. The company planned to privatize the airport in Nacala, in the northern Nampula province, he said.

The Brazilian Development Bank lent the company $80 million in 2011 for the Nacala facility, according to a statement on Airports of Mozambique’s website. The company also received $130 million from China in the same year, according to government news agency AIM.

The country, which is trying to develop gas fields that the government believes may make it the third-biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas, owes foreign investors $9.85 billion, Finance Minister Adriano Maleiane told lawmakers last month. The yields on Mozambique’s bonds due January 2023 dropped 1 basis point to 17.12 percent by 11:10 a.m. in London, after closing at a 17.14 percent on May 27.

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