Picture: 123RF/KOSTIC DUSAN
Picture: 123RF/KOSTIC DUSAN

Diversified chemicals group Omnia, whose share price has lost almost two thirds of its value in 2019, said on Tuesday it remained focused on addressing its debt burden after stabilising the business in the six months to end-September.

The group has been hit previously by a downturn in its key sectors, as well as a hefty debt burden that threatened to eclipse its market capitalisation.

The company said on Tuesday it was finalising a new debt package, including core facilities of R2bn, of which R250m is payable in two years, R750m in tree years, and R1bn after four years.

It implemented a R2bn rights issue in September, which was oversubscribed, with the proceeds used to reduce debt.

At the end of September, net debt decreased to R3.3bn, from R4.65bn at the end of the prior comparative period. The company has a market capitalisation of about R5.1bn on Tuesday, though its debt burden exceeded its market capitalisation earlier in 2019.

The group supplies chemicals and specialised services to the agriculture, mining and chemical industries. It said on Tuesday interim operating profit more than doubled to R294m, with headline earnings per share rising to 49c, from a headline loss of 122c in the prior comparative period.

The company reported an after-tax profit of R35m, having reported a loss of R93m previously.

Operating profit rose in all three of the company’s divisions, including a more than seven-fold surge in operating profit at its agriculture division to R98m. The company reported strong demand fro AgriBio products, as well due to timing of deliveries.

Operating profit in the group’s mining division rose to R234m from R104m previously, with Omnia reporting higher bulk volumes in SA, new international business, as well as cost reductions.

Revenue was flat in its chemicals division, the group said, though cost cutting ensured that operating profit increased to R91m, from R19m previously.

gernetzkyk@businesslive.co.za