MEXICO CITY, Sept 17 (Reuters) - Mexico's Cemex said on Monday it has completed an ambitious plan to refinance $7.2 billion of debt and push back maturities by up to four years, giving the cement maker more breathing room to get back on its feet.
Cemex was swamped by the 2008 U.S. housing meltdown shortly after paying out $16 billion to buy Australian peer Rinker. It has been working its way out of deep debt obligations for the past three years.
The company, which has operations in more than 50 countries, faced over $7 billion in debt maturities in 2014.
But last week, the company and nearly all of its creditors finally settled on a new agreement that includes a debt swap, a $1 billion prepayment in March 2013, some asset sales, and revised financial covenants.
Participating creditors will now receive about $6.16 billion in a combination of new loans and new dollar private placement notes, plus $500 million of new, high-yield notes due in 2018, Cemex said in a press release.
About $525 million in loans and private placement notes -- from the previous financing agreement dating to August 2009 -- will remain outstanding and will come due in February 2014.
"We intend to continue to proactively address our maturities and work toward reducing our leverage and strengthening our capital structure," Fernando Gonzalez, Cemex's executive vice president of finance and administration, said in the release.
Chief Executive Lorenzo Zambrano has been under pressure, and has sought to reassure investors that the former emerging-market darling can reduce its debt burden.
Cemex shares plunged to 13-year lows last October on doubts over whether Zambrano could turn around the company's finances.
But after creditors agreed to the debt swap, the stock rose to its highest levels in more than a year and a half.