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Wellard chief beats debt date

Brad ThompsonThe West Australian
Mauro Balzarini.
Camera IconMauro Balzarini. Credit: Michael Wilson/The West Australian.

Wellard chief executive Mauro Balzarini has repaid the $16.3 million his private company owed the Fremantle-based livestock exporter inside the September 30 deadline.

The debt related to the separation of private company WGH Holdings and Wellard before the latter’s listing last December.

In June, Wellard agreed to give WGH a three-month extension on the repayment based on advice from WGH that it did not intend to sell down its shareholding to raise the funds.

Wellard advised the market yesterday that WGH had repaid the debt after completing a refinancing that was flagged on Monday.

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WGH sold almost half of its shares in Wellard to Chinese company Fulida as part of the refinancing deal.

The deal cancelled out a $US25 million WGH debt to Fulida and saw 66.3 million shares transferred at a premium price of 49¢, well above yesterday’s closing price of 26¢.

Mr Balzarini was left holding 80 million shares, or 20 per cent of Wellard, through WGH. Lenders backing WGH were given security over the shares, which listed at $1.39 after Wellard’s initial public offering raised $298.9 million.

The non-bank lenders with security over the WGH shares are Panamanian shipping company Kontago, Singapore-based Camuna, New Finley Assets, Mr Balzarini’s wife Giovanna and Pakistani businessman Tariq Butt.

Kontago holds 42.6 per cent of the security over 67.75 million of the WGH-owned shares.

Mr Butt’s WA-registered company Butt Nominees owns about 13 per cent of Wellard after a recent spending spree which started as the exporter’s share price plunged to record lows. It is the third-biggest shareholder behind WGH and Fulida.

Meanwhile, the latest addition to the Wellard fleet on livestock carriers is making its first visit to Fremantle. The $US90 million Ocean Shearer was built in China and officially launched in April. It has been shipping livestock out of South America.

The Ocean Shearer’s arrival in WA suggests it will start carrying local livestock to markets in Asia and the Middle East, with Wellard’s Ocean Drover to carry livestock from South America.

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