March 28, 2019 / 2:27 PM / 4 months ago

UPDATE 1-Trafigura's Puma Energy replaces CFO after tough 2018

(Adds detail on 2018 results, new Africa head)

LONDON, March 28 (Reuters) - Puma Energy, the retail and storage arm of commodities trader Trafigura, has appointed Andrew Kemp as its new chief financial officer (CFO), it said on Thursday, after reporting weaker annual results.

Puma had a difficult 2018, particularly in Angola and Australia, and its new chief executive hired McKinsey earlier this year to review the business.

Kemp replaces Denis Chazarain, who served as Puma's CFO for 10 years.

Kemp is currently the Group Director of Finance at VEON Ltd, a subsidiary of international communications and technology company VEON, and will join Puma on June 10. Chazarain will leave Puma on June 30.

Trafigura owns about 49 percent of Puma Energy, while Angola's state oil firm Sonangol and Cochan Holdings, which is run by a former Angolan general, hold the rest.

Puma also appointed a new head of Africa, Eghosa Oriaikhi Mabhena. She was previously at Baker Hughes as executive director of its sub-Saharan Africa oilfield services business.

“2018 was a very tough year for Puma Energy," Chief Executive Emma Fitzgerald said in a statement on its results.

"Sales volumes were at record levels at almost 25 million cubic metres, up 9 percent on 2017. However, margins were affected by macro-economic headwinds and this led to a reduction in gross profit and EBITDA."

The company's earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) fell to $554 million last year from $740 million in 2017.

Gross profits were $1.46 billion in 2018 down from $1.67 billion due to lower unit margins.

Puma said its net debt to EBITDA ratio rose to 3.3 times versus 2.7 times in 2017 but "remained in line with capital structure policy". (Reporting by Julia Payne and Ahmad Ghaddar; Editing by Mark Potter and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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