14 April 2009

Chile's Vapores Rises Most in Six Years on Financing Talks

By Nathan Gill and James Attwood
April 14 (Bloomberg) -- Cia. Sudamericana de Vapores SA, Latin America’s largest container ship company, rose the most in six years in Santiago after saying it’s in talks to raise $750 million to turn around unprofitable shipping operations. 

The Valparaiso, Chile-based company plans to sell about $350 million in new shares and may raise $400 million from companies it leases ships from, it wrote in a statement on Chile’s securities regulator’s Web site.

The shares jumped 14 percent to 373 pesos, the biggest gain since April 2003. Before today, Vapores was the worst performer in Chile’s Ipsa index in the last six months, losing a third of its value compared with the index’s 12 percent gain. 

“It’s not surprising stocks are rising with a small glimmer that the company won’t go broke,” Cristina Acle, head of research at CorpResearch SA, said by phone from Santiago.

Chairman Jaime Claro is seeking funds after Vapores reported a $38.6 million net loss for 2008 and forecast “important” losses and service cutbacks this year as the global financial crisis saps shipping demand at a time of increased supply of vessels. Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings cut the company’s credit ratings in the past month.

Vapores said last month that it hired a unit of Germany’s HSH Nordbank AG to evaluate cost-saving measures and the possibility of selling “non-essential” assets. The company met with ship owners, ship financing banks and shipyards in Hamburg, it wrote in an e-mailed statement today.

The financing plans would put the company “in a very strong position to not only overcome the current external pressures but to recover its financial strength,” it wrote.