Shareholders have resoundingly backed a plan by chemicals and fertiliser maker Omnia to restructure its balance sheet and sell R2bn worth of new shares.

The company previously raised the ire of some analysts after making a surprise request for more shareholder funding.

In April, Omnia said “there is no requirement for any unscheduled repayment or recapitalisation”. Weeks later, it said it needed to raise R2bn in new equity as part of a capital restructuring. This was to ensure its “long-term sustainability” amid hefty annual losses and a growing debt burden.

At a general meeting on Thursday, almost all shareholders backed the plan, with 98.7% of votes in favour of a resolution allowing the company to issue shares in excess of 30% of Omnia’s current issued share capital.

And 95.8% of votes were in favour of a resolution that will allow the company to provide financial assistance to recently acquired company Umongo Petroleum and other subsidiaries.

Omnia’s shares closed at R34.13 on Thursday. In September 2014, they reached highs of around R240.

The group made a loss after tax of R407m in the year to end-March, from a profit of R664m the previous year, as higher costs, impairments and a sharp increase in interest payments offset a rise in revenue. 

Net debt rose to R4.4bn, from R2.5bn a year before, prompting Omnia to halt final dividend payments to shareholders.