JERUSALEM, May 19 (Reuters) – Israel Corp shareholders are set to vote on a $3 billion restructuring plan by the conglomerate’s shipping offshoot Zim, first set out in January and which has now received a key government go-ahead.
An Israel Corp spokesman said shareholders of the group, whose interests also include Israel Chemicals, were expected to vote in the next few days on a plan which is potentially significant after Zim’s problems helped send its parent to a net loss of $406 million in the first quarter.
Like many others in the shipping industry, Zim has been hit hard by the faltering global economy in recent years and has also bourn the cost of upgrading its fleet to more efficient vessels.
Under the deal, Israel Corp’s near 100-percent stake in Zim will fall to 32 percent, after a $1.4 billion debt-to-equity conversion agreement with creditors, while Israel Corp agreed to invest an additional $200 million, provide a liquidity line of $50 million and forgo $225 in loans.
The company has now reached an agreement with the Israeli Defence Ministry regarding its “golden share” that will enable the restructuring to go through, Zim said on Monday. Approval from other government ministries is still needed.
The golden share is to ensure that in times of emergency Zim – originally a government company that was sold to Israel Corp – would continue to operate ships in and out of Israel.
The deal also includes related companies giving Zim another $180 million by amending charter contracts and loans. The estimated equity valuation of the restructured corporation will be between $600 million and $800 million, Zim added. (Reporting by Allyn Fisher-Ilan and Tova Cohen; Editing by David Holmes)
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