Wienerberger Increases Liquidity Reserves (posted 4/20/09)
A secure financial base and sufficient liquid funds represent the top priority for Wienerberger against the backdrop of the unparalleled change in the financial and economic environment over the past 18 months. At year-end 2008, Wienerberger AG had refinancing needs that totaled €429 million (approximately $560 million) to 2011. The company has been able to extend the terms of part of these loans-namely, €223 million (~ $291 million)-that would have been due in 2009 or 2010 with the support of its banks and based on a refinancing commitment by Oesterreichische Kontrollbank. As a result of these negotiations, €18 million (~ $23 million) will now be due in 2011 and €205 million (~ $268 million) in 2013.
“Wienerberger has a healthy financial base and a strong balance sheet structure,” said Wolfgang Reithofer, chief executive officer. “I am pleased that we have been able to further strengthen our position. However, one of our most important goals remains the reduction of net debt. I am confident that we will be able to decrease these by at least €100 million (~ $131 million) annually over the coming years.”
“We have been able to reduce our refinancing requirements for the next three years to €224 million (~ $292 million),” said Willy Van Riet, chief financial officer. “This amount is secured by liquid funds and undrawn, committed lines of credit. By extending our liabilities, we have also increased our liquidity reserves. We have had excellent relationships with our banks for many years, and that has made it possible to also gain their support at normal market conditions in these difficult times. This climate of mutual trust underscores the importance of open communications and proves that this approach has a positive effect over the long-term.”
According to Helene Pehr of UniCredit Bank Austria AG, which served as the bank coordinator, “Wienerberger contacted us at the beginning of the year to extend the terms of several loans and thereby improve the existing maturity structure. Together we developed the most appropriate process; by sounding existing lenders we determined which return lenders would expect and then announced the pricing at a joint bank meeting. The banks were impressed by the quick reaction of Wienerberger’s management to the market crisis and the still extremely sound credit metrics of the company. Ultimately, the borrower’s excellent relationship with its lenders, together with the fair pricing, really did its job: not only did we receive a commitment from a bank, which was not yet lending to Wienerberger, we also received a substantial oversubscription by the existing lenders.”
The following banks are members of the consortium as mandated lead arrangers: UniCredit Bank Austria AG (coordinator, agent); Bayern LB; Deutsche Bank AG; Erste Group Bank AG; Fortis Bank S.A./N.V.; Raiffeisen Zentralbank Österreich AG; and The Royal Bank of Scotland plc, Frankfurt Branch. Lead managers include Banque de l'Economie, du Commerce et de la Monetique - BECM ; and Svenska Handelsbanken AB (Publ). Managers include Dresdner Bank AG, Luxembourg Branch; and Raiffeisen-Landesbank Steiermark AG.
Visit www.wienerberger.com for more information.