September 20, 2019 / 6:15 AM / 2 months ago

Metals tycoon Gupta injects $150 mln into Australian steel unit

* Cash injection into Australian unit follows halted listing

* Company sells downsized bond paying unusually high 12% coupon

* Bonds reduced from A$475mln, company adds security

By Paulina Duran

SYDNEY, Sept 20 (Reuters) - British commodities tycoon Sanjeev Gupta has injected $150 million into his Australian steel manufacturing business Infrabuild, after plans to list it in the country were put on hold and a debt raising failed to elicit support from investors.

Infrabuild said it was also raising $325 million through the sale of secured bonds with an unusually high coupon of 12%. This, according to Moody’s Investor Service, marks a drop from a previous plan to raise $475 million debt via bonds.

Unlike the previous offer, the new bonds are secured against property, account receivables and inventories, rating agencies Moody’s and Fitch said. They rate the bond Ba3 and BB, respectively, well below a level deemed “investment-grade”, indicating their speculative, or highly risky nature.

In comparison, steel manufacturing company BlueScope Steel Ltd pays 4.8% for drawn debt, according to its filings with the stock exchange.

InfraBuild is a wholly owned subsidiary of Liberty House Group, part of the GFG Alliance conglomerate that manages the industrial, finance and metals investments of the Gupta family.

“In connection with the offering of the notes, and as part of a broader refinancing, GFG’s chairman, Sanjeev Gupta, has committed to contribute equity into the company,” InfraBuild said in a statement on Friday.

The new bonds, Gupta’s injected cash and an extra A$250 million asset-backed loan will be used to refinance debt and provide working capital to InfraBuild, Moody’s said.

Infrabuild supplies steel products to more than 15,000 customers in Australia, Moody’s estimates. The London-based conglomerate had bought it in 2017 from Australia’s Arrium after the latter went into administration.

Earlier this year, GFG delayed a planned A$1 billion ($679 million) listing here of Infrabuild until at least next year, two people with knowledge of the matter have told Reuters.

GFG has grown rapidly from a metals trader, investing over recent years in often troubled metals manufacturing facilities from Britain to India and in renewable energy assets, raising questions over the billions spent to fund its rapid expansion. ($1 = 1.47 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Paulina Duran; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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