May 3, 2020 / 12:17 PM / 23 days ago

Israel's Delek fourth-quarter loss widens, auditors place 'going concern' warning

TEL AVIV (Reuters) - Israeli conglomerate Delek Group reported a wider loss in the fourth quarter and its auditors placed a “going concern” warning on the company due to the impact from the coronavirus outbreak and steep drop in oil prices in April.

Debt-laden Delek, which last year bought Chevron’s British North Sea oil and gas fields for $2 billion, said on Sunday it lost 311 million shekels ($89 million) in the final three months of 2019, compared with a loss of 219 million a year earlier as finance expenses widened.

Delek, whose stock price and bond prices have been hit hard this year, is in talks with bond and other credit holders to negotiate a settlement.

The company, which holds key stakes in Israel’s two main natural gas fields, has sold a number of assets to raise cash and said it was seeking to sell its holdings in its Delek Israel unit as well as to receive royalties in two smaller gas sites.

Delek’s “auditors have added to the financial statements a note drawing attention to the issue of ‘going concern’,” it said, noting it expects “to reach an agreed plan concerning an update of the financial covenants and credit terms, strengthening of the collateral and reinforcing its capital.”

Bondholders, concerned over the firm’s financial situation, have threatened to call for Delek to repay all of the 6 billion shekels owed them if the company did not immediately inject 400 million shekels to shore up its balance sheet.

CEO Idan Wallace said that in recent months, the global energy sector has experienced unparalleled and extreme volatility but that Delek “is a strong company with quality assets and a clear positive net asset value.”

($1 = 3.5055 shekels)

Reporting by Steven Scheer; Editing by Tova Cohen

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