Frontline Shares Sink on Debt Conversion Announcement

reuters_logo1OSLO, Oct 11 (Reuters) – Oil tanker firm Frontline said it would convert $25 million of its outstanding debt due in 2015 to equity, an announcement which sent its share price almost 10 percent lower on Friday.

Frontline will give bondholders 5.8 million new shares priced at $2.41 each, as well $2.25 million in cash, the firm said. It will also hand out up to an extra 1.2 million shares, with the exact number to be based on the trading value of the company’s stock over the coming week.

The Norwegian company’s current market capitalisation is $176 million and it has 78.5 million shares in issue, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Frontline, part of billionaire tycoon John Fredriksen’s empire, is converting $25 million of its $225 million debt due in 2015.

Tanker charter rates have remained depressed in recent years as a slew of new vessels, ordered before the global financial crisis, are hit the market as demand is weak.

Rates are often below break-even levels. Frontline has warned it may struggle to repay its debts if they do not pick up soon and it is unable to raise equity or sell assets.

At 1341 GMT, the company’s shares traded 9.8 percent lower at 13.35 crowns ($2.21) on the Oslo bourse, after the announcement of the debt conversion which will dilute existing shareholders.

($1 = 6.0448 Norwegian krones) (Reporting by Balazs Koranyi; Editing by Pravin Char)

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