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Can Perwaja be saved A week ago, the bonds of Perwaja Steel Sdn Bhd, a unit of Perwaja Holdings Bhd, were downgraded to noninvestment grade, something that rarely happens in corporate Malaysia.
Typically, this would have led to the bond holders dumping those debt papers. Instead, the Perwaja bond holders, made up of unit trusts and insurance funds, are holding on to their script for reasons best known to them. Perwaja financial position is dire. The loss making group has more than RM1bil in debt and is being hit by falling demand and slumping steel prices. Malaysian Rating Corp Bhd said it had downgraded the bonds because liquidity position would come under increasing pressure to meet its upcoming financial obligations StarBizWeek has learnt that Perwaja management has been in active discussions with the bond holders to assuage their fears. The kate spade discount site key message that has gone out to the bondholders is that not only does Perwaja have assets that can be easily turned into cash, but that it is also in the midst of finalising an RM350mil facility from a number of banks that should give it a new lease of life to turn itself around. In an exclusive interview with StarBizWeek, Perwaja major shareholder and executive chairman, the exuberant Tan Sri Abu Sahid Mohamed, explains that all is not lost for Perwaja. More interestingly, Abu Sahid comes out in the open to talk about the unfair state of affairs relating to trade policies and mining concessions that have been adversely affecting Perwaja. Nevertheless, he is hopeful that Perwaja can steer itself out of kate spade retailers its doldrums. course there hope. Otherwise, I would not be talking to you, I would be hiding under the table, he quips, in his booming voice. is a pioneering steel operator with RM2bil in revenue and with plenty of valuable assets in hand. We certainly have plans in place to tackle the current tough conditions, adds Abu Sahid. For example, the group is currently holding about 200,000 tonnes of stocks worth RM700mil to RM800mil at its plants. The stocks are mostly steel billets which can be sold at RM3,000 to RM4,000 per tonne each. the final sale kate spade situation warrants it, we will definitely have to sell. But we are still holding on (to the stocks) because we will risk selling at a loss, given the current low international steel price at US$520 (RM1,652) per tonne compared with US$1,200 (RM3,812) per tonne during its peak, he says. Furthermore, Perwaja is also banking on its RM400mil steel and palletisation plant currently being constructed in Kemaman, Terengganu, which should be fully commissioned by the first quarter of next year. Steel producers like Perwaja use palletised iron ore as their raw material to make steel billets. Once commissioned, Abu Sahid points out that the plants are expected to significantly contribute to cost savings up to US$70 per tonne. is where the margin is (for Perwaja), and I hoping to see positive changes by the first quarter of next year, he adds. Iron ore prices, a big problem In recent years, the international prices of raw materials like iron ore, coking coal and scrap metal have been on the rise, particularly with the oligopoly by top global iron ore producers, Vale SA of Brazil, BHP Billiton and the Rio Tinto Group, explains Abu Sahid. This makes it difficult for small local steel players that have no negotiation powers unlike major users such as the Japanese steel players. Japanese have managed to negotiate long term contracts with global producers. But the rush for raw materials have pushed iron ore prices to US$250 per tonne so far this year, compared with the US$150 to US$160 per tonne that we had been used to, he says. Abu Sahid, who blames the monopolistic nature kate spade 70 off sale of the global iron ore suppliers for creating havoc on Perwaja business, says that the group concentration and pelletisation plants the first in Asia would enable the processing of raw iron ore into steel concentrates and pellets to be done in Malaysia. But having the palletisation plant alone won solve Perwaja problem. Where is it going to get its iron ore from in the first place? While there are a number of iron ore plants in Malaysia, almost all of them seem to be exporting their products. Abu Sahid says they have solved this by securing their own concession in Malaysia. Apparently, this was not an easy thing to pull off, considering the opaque nature in which such mining concessions are given out in Malaysia. By some estimates, Malaysian based miners exported about 20 million tonnes of iron ore last year alone. In Pahang alone, it is understood that a total of 90 iron ore mining permits have been issued over the years. Little is known about these mines, let alone their owners. Word is that many of these mines are majority owned by foreign parties today. For now, though, Abu Sahid has helped Perwaja secure an iron ore mining concession in Bukit Besi from the Terengganu state government.
It is a 20 year concession on a 600 acre site and the ore will be supplied to the soon to be ready concentration plant in Kemaman. mining work has started with an estimated production of 100,000 tonnes per year, says Abu Sahid. While Perwaja is most keen to acquire larger iron ore mining concessions in Pahang, Terengganu or Johor, the group, for now, has to be content with its small acreage in Bukit Besi, adds Abu Sahid.
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