First Quantum shares jump 8% on plans to bolster capital

By Divya Rajagopal

TORONTO (Reuters) – Shares in Canadian miner First Quantum Minerals Ltd rose as much as 9% on Thursday as investors heaved a sigh of relief after the company announced measures to boost its balance sheet.

Late on Wednesday, the Vancouver-based company announced four financial restructuring measures, including $1 billion in capital raising by selling new shares underwritten by RBC Capital Markets, Goldman Sachs and BMO Capital Markets; extending its debt facilities till 2027; and signing a $500 million offtake agreement with one of its largest shareholder Jiangxi Copper Co Ltd.

The new measures will improve the company’s liquidity by $2 billion and reduces the net leverage to 2.3 times its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA).

It will continue to pursue additional initiatives, including asset and stake sales, “in a disciplined manner” including in its Zambia mines, the company said.

First Quantum is reeling from a surprise decision by Panama’s top court that closed its flagship mine in the Central American nation, following protests. The suspension of the mine, which accounted for about 40% of First Quantum’s revenues, has roiled the company, wiping out about half of its market value since November.

On Wednesday, the company also reported a net loss of $1.45 billion, or $2.09 per share, for the quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with a profit of $117 million, or 17 cents per share, a year earlier.

Tristan Pascall, CEO of First Quantum, told analysts on Wednesday the company was seeking $20 billion in damages from Panama at the International Chamber of Commerce arbitration process.

At 11:06 a.m. ET (1607 GMT) the shares of First Quantum were trading at $12.70, up by 8%.

(Reporting by Divya Rajagopal; Editing by Josie Kao)

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