JOHANNESBURG – South African petrochemicals group Sasol will issue up to $2 billion of shares in the second half of 2021 as it battles high debt, lower oil and chemicals prices, and the coronavirus crisis, it said on Monday, sending its shares sharply lower.
The world’s top manufacturer of motor fuel from coal said the exact amount to be raised would be subject to progress made on asset disposals and cost-cutting.
Shares in Sasol fell 9.1% to 132.89 rands by 0711 GMT after announcing what could be among the country’s largest rights issues in decades, potentially exceeding the company’s market capitalisation of 91.99 billion rands.
Investors have been concerned by the company’s debt, which has been exacerbated by delays and cost overruns at its Lake Charles Chemicals Project (LCCP) in Louisiana and prompted the resignations of its joint chief executives to restore shareholder confidence.
The company said total debt for the year stood at 189.7 billion rands, up from 130.9 billion rands a year earlier.
“The financial year 2020, which we indicated would be our peak gearing period, saw our stretched balance sheet come under significant pressure initially with the collapse in the Brent crude oil price to 21-year lows and then the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Chief Executive Fleetwood Grobler.
Core full-year headline earnings per share fell 61% to 14.70 rands ($0.85) from 37.65 rands the previous year.