12 April 2004 00:01 [Source: ICB]
Stolt-Nielsen (SNSA) has delayed its plans to issue a new five-year senior unsecured bond loan (ECN 5 April). The company had hoped to raise up to NKr1bn (€119m/$144m) through the issue, with the first tranche becoming available between 26 March and 2 April.
It now intends to resume marketing efforts following the release of its first quarter earnings, scheduled for 14 April. While delaying the bond issue, SNSA denied that recent estimates of its potential liabilities related to antitrust investigations and litigation were authorised by the company. It said that it had not provided any analysis or quantification of potential liabilities to the manager of the proposed loan.
SNSA confirmed it had considered asset sales as part of its financial restructuring, but cautioned that these may not take place and that recent valuations may not be a reliable guide to likely proceeds.
The decision to halt the bond issue compounds the company’s current problems – last month it lost its immunity from prosecution under US antitrust legislation from the US Department of Justice.
In the same action last year, alleged co-conspirator in the ongoing antitrust investigation, Odfjell Seachem had fines of $42.5m levied against it. It is estimated unofficially that Stolt-Nielsen could face similar punishment.
In addition to the fine placed on Odfjell, two of its senior executives were jailed and fined. The company said that Erik Nilsen, Odfjell ASA vice president, was the first due to be released from the federal prison in Florida, US, at the end of last week. Odfjell ASA president and chief executive officer Bjorn Sjaastad is also jailed and is due to be released on 18 May.
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