Is chemical manufacturing firm Omnia Holdings’ debt spiralling out of control? When the company released its results for the six months to end-September in November 2018, the increase in net interest bearing debt to R4.6bn from R2.5bn at the end of March 2018 was hard to ignore, especially as its market capitalisation is only R4bn. With the soaring debt came higher interest. In the six months, Omnia’s net finance expenses jumped 142% to R218m, compared with the six months ended September 2017. The company, which will release full-year results in June, attributed the increase in finance expenses to, among others, higher working capital after the acquisition of oil products and lubricants supplier Umongo Petroleum and Oro Agri, the manufacturer of agricultural adjuvants, pesticides and foliar nutrients for agricultural, greenhouse, nursery and turf applications.   Rod Humphris, Omnia chair and former MD, says the two acquisitions, which cost about R2bn, will improve the company’s...

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