LNG fleet owner Exmar issues statement on latest financial position and repayments

Monday, 08 July 2019
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Exmar, the Belgian fleet owner with LNG assets such as the “Tango FLNG” production hull operating at Bahia Blanca in Argentina, said it had repaid a senior unsecured bond as it reorganised some of its finances and cut costs to underpin its financial future.

Exmar said in an update on its finances that it had repaid the unsecured bond funded partially with a new unsecured two-year bond of 650 million Norwegian crowns ($75 million) and partly with available resources.

The company, led by Chief Executive Nicolas Saverys, currently manages a fleet of 10 LNG carriers and FSRUs and owns two FLNG barges. The company, like many others, has suffered over the last few years from the shipping industry downturn.

Exmar also operates in the liquefied petroleum gas market, where it owns or operates around 30 vessels. It has been expanding in the LPG sector while consolidating its LNG interests.

Antwerp-based Exmar said in the financial update that it organized the payments on the Floating Storage and Regasification Unit (FSRU) barge in the second quarter of 2019.

The financing is approved by the credit committee of China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC), where the vessel was built, but due to a delay in the finance documentation with CSSC, the financing is not yet concluded.

“The completion of the documentation is expected in the course of the third quarter of 2019,” said Exmar.

The company also explained that further to the successful performance acceptance tests of the “Tango FLNG” in June 2019, Exmar met all conditions for the partial release of the debt service reserve amounts for the repayment of the $200M loan with Bank of China and Deutsche Bank ($40M in a first phase).

“This repayment is subject to the approval of Sinosure (export credit insurer), the latter taking more time than previously communicated,” it explained.

“Exmar will do its utmost to expedite this repayment, expected to occur in the course of the third quarter of 2019,” stated the Belgian company.

The “Tango FLNG” plant is chartered by Argentina energy company YPF under a 10-year agreement. The vessel was built at the Chinese Wison shipyard in Nantong and delivered to Exmar in 2017.

The vessel is the former floating liquefaction unit, “Caribbean FLNG”, constructed for a cancelled venture in the South American state of Colombia and renamed before being sent to Argentina.

Pending the settlement of both the Chinese credit issues, Exmar said it acquired a bridging loan for $30M to temporarily increase its liquidity.

Additionally, Exmar has signed an agreement with Compagnie Maritime Belge (CMB) for the sale of 50 percent of its shares in Reslea, owner of the office buildings in Antwerp.

Exmar will realize a capital gain of about $19M and therefore reinforce its liquidity position.

The company also gave the instruction to pay the first instalment for the construction of two Very Large Gas Carriers (VLGCs) in accordance with the shipbuilding contract with Jiangnan Shipyard in China.

“Both vessels are under construction in Shanghai and will serve under a firm contract of five years with Equinor after delivery in 2021,” said Exmar.

“Exmar expects and believes that as per December 2019 it is foreseen that all (financial) covenants will be met,” it added.

Exmar posted an annual pre-tax loss of $14.2 million compared with a profit of $29.3M the previous year, though said it was confident of a sound financial future.

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