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AsiaAlum Group inks 6.5b yuan loan deal to boost production

AsiaAlum Group inks 6.5b yuan loan deal to boost production

Write: Cassidy [2011-05-20]

Amount is biggest ever extended by a Chinese bank to private-sector company

GUANGZHOU - AsiaAlum Group, one of the world's leading premier aluminum processing companies, on Friday signed an agreement with a bank consortium led by China Construction Bank's Zhaoqing branch for a 6.5 billion yuan ($952 million) loan.

The figure marks the largest loan that any Chinese bank has ever extended to a private-sector company.

Of the loan, 2.45 billion yuan will be used to support the firm's aluminum extrusion project, and 4 billion yuan for its world-class flat rolling project, which is set to become operational in July.

AsiaAlum Group inks 6.5b yuan loan deal to boost production

"The big loan means that AsiaAlum Group will have enough financial support for business operations in the coming five to 10 years," said Zhong Dongping, a member of the company's board.

The firm's aluminum extrusion facilities have an annual production capacity of 350,000 tons, and the flat rolling facilities, which involves a total investment of more than 6 billion yuan, will have an annual production capacity of 400,000 tons at the initial stage and yield an annual output worth more than 20 billion yuan when fully operation in three years.

The firm's flat rolling project will initially focus on prime-quality aluminum plates and strips for information technology, household appliances, vehicles and vessels, as well as for the printing and packing industries.

The project means it will become the world's third aluminum processing company to provide top-class aluminum products for the aviation and aerospace industries after Alcoa in the United States and Alcan in Canada.

Friday's agreement also marks the completion of AsiaAlum's recapitalization initiated in 2009.

AsiaAlum was listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 1998. Advised by Merrill Lynch, the management performed a leveraged buyout financed by issuing US$535 million in payment-in-kind notes in 2006, which were listed on the Singapore Exchange; and it was delisted from the Hong Kong Stock Exchange afterwards.

However, as the global financial crisis brought the firm high liabilities and risks, AsiaAlum made a tender offer to buy back all its outstanding offshore debts with an aggregate face value of more than US$1.2 billion at deep discounts. This was rejected by bondholders including Merrill Lynch, as well as the hedge funds Och Ziff Capital Management and Stark Investments.

The firm later applied to a Hong Kong court for provisional liquidation proceedings and, last June, it approved the court for the management team's purchase of Asia Aluminum for US$475 million.

The firm eventually spent $110 million on the buyback of the offshore debts.