Odebrecht Agroindustrial to Discuss Loan Maturities With Banks

Odebrecht Agroindustrial, the Odebrecht family’s sugar and ethanol producer, said it plans to hold talks with banks to extend loan maturities, the latest measure to support the company after Brazil’s alternative-fuel market collapsed.

The company said it also expects to receive a capital injection from its main shareholder, Odebrecht SA, with the terms set to be defined in the coming months, according to an e-mailed statement Friday in response to questions. The company said it would “respect current contracts,” focusing on pushing out the dates when the debt comes due. It also ensured that it wouldn’t seek any sort of “haircut,” financial industry jargon for a reduction in the underlying value of a loan or bond.

The company blamed the ethanol sector’s “serious economic-financial crisis, one of the worst in its history,” on recent government policy. It said gasoline subsidies and the reduction of the Cide tax on the fuel were mostly to blame.

While the sector’s troubles date back years, they’ve been compounded by the collapse of the construction industry, another key business for the Odebrecht conglomerate. A massive bribery investigation has ensnared many of the industry’s biggest companies, and Odebrecht Chief Executive Officer Marcelo Odebrecht has been jailed for months for his alleged role, although he denies any guilt.

In testimony summarized on his company’s website Oct. 30, Odebrecht said his imprisonment was illegal and the evidence that led to his arrest -- including an e-mail between executives and written notes made by the entrepreneur himself -- had failed to show a crime was committed.

Low Prices

The industry also has been struggling with multi-year low sugar prices -- raw sugar futures traded on ICE Futures U.S. in New York fell for the past four years in the longest slump since at least 1962 amid rising global inventories. About 50 Brazilian mills out of about 340 have closed since 2011 and 10 more are expected to halt operations in the current season, Brazil industry group Unica said in a May report. Debt in Brazil’s sugar industry is 82.5 billion reais ($22 billion), more than the 69.7-billion reais revenue expected for the 2015-16 season, Archer Consulting said in a June report.

Reuters reported Nov. 4 that the Odebrecht unit is working with Rothschild and Virtus BR Partners to advise it on the refinancing. The company declined to comment.

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