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Glencore-led Australian coal port wins court nod on $3.2 billion debt refinancing

Glencore-led Australian coal port wins court nod on $3.2 billion debt refinancing

SYDNEY:Australia’s Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal obtained court approval on Tuesday for a $3.2 billion debt refinancing plan, offering respite to its owners who would have had to start repayments this month.

The Queensland-based terminal, known as WICET, is 40 percent owned by miner and commodities trader Glencore (GLEN.L) and was built to service a consortium of eight coal companies during a period of high commodity prices.

It will now have the maturity of $2.6 billion in senior debt extended from this month until September 2026, court documents showed.

Glencore and its four partners faced a September 30 deadline to refinance the loan or start repayments.

“WICET is presently not in a position to repay an amount of approximately $2,578 million in debt (“senior debt”) which will fall due … on 30 September 2018,” the court documents said.

The export terminal, which is funded entirely by debt backed by port fees, also owes A$383 million ($272.73 million) in junior debt and A$575 million in a shareholder loan, maturing in 2020 and 2046, respectively, the documents show.

The port is exporting much less than its 27 million tonne capacity as three of its original eight user-owners have folded, meaning the remaining five shippers must shoulder all of the port’s debt.

As a result, charges at WICET are about $25 a tonne – about five times the port fee at the adjacent RG Tanna terminal.

As part of the refinancing, which was approved by 90 percent of the terminal’s lenders, Glencore, New Hope Corp (NHC.AX), China’s Yancoal (YAL.AX), Coronado Coal, and Baosteel (600019.SS) arm Aquila Resources will make higher financing repayments, the documents show.

The lending syndicate comprises around 17 banks including Australia’s four largest banks, Asian and European lenders, and a couple of hedge funds, according to Thomson Reuters Loan Pricing Corp data.

WICET did not respond to requests for comment. A spokesman for Glencore declined to comment.