March 2, 2020 / 11:45 AM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Trafigura's Puma Energy agrees shareholder restructuring with Angola's Cochan

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LONDON, March 2 (Reuters) - Puma Energy, the fuel retail arm of global commodities trader Trafigura, has agreed a shareholder restructuring that would reduce the stake of a retired Angolan general to less than 5%.

Puma chief executive Emma FitzGerald has been trying to turn around Puma since joining in late 2018. She has overseen some major asset sales, such as Puma's Australian business, in order to deleverage the firm that has been loss making since 2018.

Reducing retired general Leopoldino Fragoso do Nascimento's stake was a key move as the size of his share was seen limiting the pool of banks that Puma could access for financing.

"Today’s shareholding restructuring reflects the third pillar of a plan, which together with our targeted deleveraging efforts and the implementation of Puma Energy’s five-year strategy, will facilitate future access to capital," Puma's FitzGerald said in the statement.

Puma said late on Sunday that Geneva-based Trafigura would buy back Cochan Holdings' shares which will then be re-purchased by Puma.

Do Nascimento, known as General Dino, holds a 15% stake in Puma via Cochan while Trafigura has 49% and Angola's state oil firm 28%.

"The re-purchase by Puma Energy will be funded by a subordinated shareholder loan from Trafigura with an initial tenor of seven years," Puma's statement said. The size of the loan was not disclosed.

Puma's shareholding structure was put together under Trafigura's former CEO and founder Claude Dauphin, who was close to the former ruling Angolan elite.

However, the Swiss firm's hopes of listing Puma hit compliance hurdles owing to the general's presence as a significant stakeholder.

In latest quarterly results, Puma posted a net loss of $462 million in the first nine-months ended Sept. 30 for 2019. (Reporting by Julia Payne; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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