IEC struggles to raise NIS 2b. in debt

Sources at investment institutions told 'Globes' they are worried about their exposure to IEC and expressed reservations about its planned debt offering.

November 10, 2011 07:37
1 minute read.
The Jerusalem Post

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Israel Electric Corporation is struggling to raise NIS 2 billion, and its board of directors on Tuesday postponed approving the measure indefinitely, people familiar with the matter told Globes. The utility, whose debt already totals NIS 62b., has been trying to issue a new bond for the past two weeks.

Sources at investment institutions told Globes they are worried about their exposure to IEC and expressed reservations about its planned debt offering.

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On October 6, IEC’s board of directors instructed management to raise NIS 2b. in a debt offering or from bank loans.

The approval is unusual and was given to ease the utility’s serious cash-flow problems, caused by the need to buy more expensive diesel fuel due to disruptions in natural-gas deliveries from Egypt.

IEC planned to raise the money by expanding its NIS 1.5b. Series 22 bond, which is traded on the TASE. On October 30, the bondholders met to approve the expansion but did not vote on it because there was no legal quorum.

The bondholders are worried about the effect of the expansion on the bond’s price. It is the only IEC bond now traded on the TASE, and its current price reflects a yield of 3.3 percent.

IEC is in talks with Bank Hapoalim on an emergency loan if it cannot raise the debt on the TASE, the sources said.

The amount of the loan and its terms will only be set after the situation about the bond issue is clarified, they said.

The “moment of truth is approaching” on IEC’s debt, a top executive at one of the large institutions that owns IEC bonds told Globes. “The amount is too big, and the company is finding it increasingly difficult to recycle its debt.

There already is no real demand, and the government will have to decide what to do.

I’m afraid it will wait for a crisis and only then decide how to.

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