Nigerian WAPCO seeks $290m

Nigerian WAPCO seeks $290m
Published: 05 January 2004

Nigeria's largest cement maker WAPCO said on Tuesday it wanted to raise 40 billion naira (US$290m) through a combination of medium-term debt and a rights issue to restructure its debt and bolster working capital.  West African Portland Cement Company, a unit of the French building materials group Lafarge, said it would seek shareholders' approval at an extraordinary general meeting scheduled for January 22 in Lagos.  It aims to raise 10 billion naira through a rights issue not later than 31 December 2005, and a further 30 billion naira in local or foreign currency on a medium-term basis. It did not provide further details.  "The proceeds of such a (rights) issue shall be used to reduce the company's indebtedness and improve working capital," director of corporate services Timothy Agboola said in a statement.  WAPCO recently opened a modern kiln at its plant near Lagos valued at over 10 billion naira. The project was financed with internally generated resources and short-term bank loans.  Repaying the loans at Nigeria's high interest rates has put a heavy burden on the company. It has only started showing signs of recovery in the half-year to end-June 2003 when its profit after tax jumped to 360 million naira from 70 million naira in the same period a year earlier.