20 January 2009

Chile’s Cencosud Seeks Return to 2007 Debt Levels (Update1)

By Nathan Gill and James Attwood
     Jan. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Cencosud SA, Chile’s biggest retailer, plans to return to the debt levels it maintained before making a series of acquisitions starting in 2007.
     The Santiago-based operator of department stores, supermarkets and home-improvement outlets plans to issue 21-year bonds worth 3 million UF, Chile’s inflation-adjusted currency ($103 million). The proceeds will be used to pay off short-term debt, interim Chief Executive Officer Daniel Rodriguez told reporters in Santiago today.
     “We are trying to find a way to return to debt levels similar to those that we had before the acquisitions in 2007,” Rodriguez, who replaces Laurence Golborne as CEO effective Jan. 31, said after an investor presentation.
     Golborne said Oct. 23 that Cencosud had scaled back expansion plans because of the global economic slowdown and credit crisis. The company’s long-term borrowings totaled $2.04 billion at the end of the third quarter.
     Cencosud bought Peru’s Grupo de Supermercados Wong SA for $467 Million last February and paid about $380 million to buy a Brazilian supermarket chain in November 2007.