24 March 2002 21:39 [Source: ICIS news]
SAN ANTONIO, Texas (CNI)--Huntsman Corporation is following through on its plan to restructure finances by swapping equity in the privately held company but it still believes the Huntsman family will maintain control, a company executive told CNI here Sunday.
Don Stanutz, the new chief operating officer for Salt Lake City, Utah-based Huntsman Corporation said he remains encouraged with the discussions over the company’s effort to restructure about $800m (Euro909m) worth of bond debt and expects to have an announcement some time in the second quarter.
CNI interviewed Stanutz during a break in meetings at the 27th annual International Petrochemicals Conference (IPC). Sponsored by the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association (NPRA), the conference runs through Tuesday.
He said Huntsman is eager to discuss the restructuring with its customers and suppliers, taking every opportunity as this year’s NPRA to meet with them.
Regarding Huntsman’s recent financial woes, Stanutz said the combination of economic downturn, high gas prices and a strong US dollar created once-in-a-lifetime hurdles no one could have predicted. He said the storm engulfed his company just after a series of "aggressive" acquisitions that left its debt load out of balance.
Since embarking on its strategy of offering equity in Huntsman Corporation for a restructuring of its bonded indebtedness, the company has seen many bond holders sell their bonds to other parties because they don’t want to be involved in the chemical industry.
But now Stanutz said Huntsman is having "amicable" discussions with Credit Suisse, calling it an investment firm willing to participate.
He declined to specify the amount of equity the corporation is willing to swap but he insisted: "We feel confident the family will maintain its overall control."
In addition, he said Huntsman’s new corporate financial structure with a strong equity partner should position the company for future growth once the restructuring is complete.
Stanutz also told CNI the company has no interest in divesting any of its operations unless the right opportunity presents itself. He denied a report that Huntsman has been talking with Dow Chemical about a sale of the Huntsman polyurethane assets and called the present environment the wrong time to sell.
Declaring the difficulties of the last two years the product of an economic "aberration," Stanutz said he foresees no fundamental change in the company’s traditional strategy of expanding when bargains appear. He emphasised, however, that the company is firmly focused now on the restructuring of its debt, swapping equity for feasible deals in the bond market.
Huntsman is the world’s largest privately held chemical company.
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