Company News

UPDATE 1-Chile's Codelco issues $2 bln in bonds as copper prices slump

(New throughout, adds pricing of bonds)

SANTIAGO, Sept 23 (Reuters) - Chile’s state copper miner Codelco has issued dollar-denominated bonds totaling $2 billion, according to IFR, Refinitiv’s capital markets news service, as it seeks to press on with an overhaul of its mines even as a trade war has pummeled copper prices.

The 10 and 30-year bonds were issued in New York with price guidance of 150 basis points and 180 basis points over equivalent U.S. Treasuries, IFR said.

The sale of the new paper was being handled by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, HSBC, JPMorgan and Scotiabank, IFR said.

In August Codelco sold bonds for a combined $180 million and offloaded a minority stake in natural gas port terminal GNL Mejillones for $193.5 million.

The miner, which produces nearly 10% of the world’s copper, returns all its profits to the state and is funded by a mix of capitalization and debt.

In April, Chairman Juan Benavides told Reuters Codelco was sufficiently capitalized after issuance of $1.3 billion in 30-year bonds in January to be able to fund its $40 billion mines overhaul.

However, Chile’s economy has been hit by a fall in the copper price that makes up as much as 15% of its GDP, and Codelco’s operations have been further hampered by labor strife as poor weather hit production at its northern mines.

The firm saw profits plunge 74% to $318 million in the first half of 2019.

Last week, Codelco’s new chief executive Octavio Araneda told staff that he believed copper prices would remain depressed through next year due to global trade tensions, and urged workers to help counter the negative bias by becoming more productive.

A spokesman for Codelco, which has a debt rating of A3/A+, told Reuters the company would make a statement on the latest bond issue later on Monday. (Reporting by Aislinn Laing; Editing by David Gregorio)