Strategy

Glencore Seen Taking More Debt-Cutting Steps

Analysts say the commodity supplier needs to cut net debt by almost half to $16 billion by the end of next year to retain its credit rating.
Matthew HellerAugust 17, 2015
Glencore Seen Taking More Debt-Cutting Steps

Glencore Plc may announce additional measures this week to reduce its $31 billion debt pile amid a 13-year low in commodity prices.

The world’s largest listed commodity supplier has already trimmed this year’s spending plan by as much as $800 million and sold $290 million of mines. But JPMorgan Chase analysts say it needs to cut net debt by almost half to $16 billion by the end of next year to retain its BBB credit rating, the second-lowest investment grade rating provided by Standard & Poor’s.

“If Glencore doesn’t do anything to reduce leverage, the ratings will be at risk,” Max Mihm, a portfolio manager at Union Investment, told Bloomberg. “They are dependent on bank financing, so they have to do something.”

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Commodity companies’ earnings worldwide are under pressure because of the price rout, while industry-wide dollar-bond borrowing costs have jumped to the highest in five years. About 54% of Glencore’s outstanding bonds are denominated in dollars, according to Bloomberg.

Glencore could detail its debt reduction plans on Wednesday when it reports its earnings for the first half of this year. It may cut a further $500 million to $1 billion from future spending plans, Barclays analyst David Butler said.

Other measures available to the company include lowering its dividend, raising equity, reducing operating costs, boosting production, or selling assets.

“There’s a very good reason to be worried” about Glencore’s balance sheet, Richard Knights, a mining analyst at Liberum Capital, told Bloomberg. If commodity prices deteriorate further, the company “could be looking at ratings downgrades, cutting dividends or, further down the line, even potential rights issues.”

Glencore’s net debt to earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization is estimated at 3.4 times, using spot commodity prices and foreign-exchange levels, Morgan Stanley analysts said in an Aug. 4 note. That compares with Glencore’s target of less than 3 times.