The SEPI rejects the rescue of Abengoa | Economy

Abengoa has been surviving with assisted breathing for seven years and this week its last oxygen balloon failed. The State Society of Industrial Participations (SEPI) has denied the rescue of 249 million euros that the six subsidiaries of the Sevillian company —which accumulates a debt of 6,000 million— had requested to avoid a new bankruptcy. That contribution was vital to guarantee the injection of 200 million euros that the Californian fund Terramar Capital had promised to inoculate Abenewco 1, the subsidiary company of Abengoa that brings together the main assets of the company, to try to refloat it. The SEPI report, advanced by Seville Journal and to which EL PAÍS has had access, concludes that “the medium and long-term viability of the applicants is not demonstrated, supported by a Viability Plan to overcome the crisis situation” and that “compliance with the plan is not guaranteed.” reimbursement of state support. The file is still pending resolution and will be concluded before the end of June, but close sources anticipate that the firm has not made the fund change its mind with its allegations.

The company has tried over the past week to guarantee its future, something that until now it had always achieved at the last minute, but the fact that SEPI last Tuesday limited itself to requesting information from Abengoa on the status of the lawsuits with third parties was a first warning that the state company, dependent on the Ministry of Finance, had no intention of coming to the rescue of the Sevillian entity. The state company’s report draws attention to “the material uncertainty related to the company in operation” which “questions the viability or capacity” of each of the six subsidiaries for which the rescue had been requested. The financial situation of Abenewco 1, from which the rest of the entities that had requested the aid depend, has also been decisive for the refusal. SEPI warns that “it has not been proven that the problem in its solvency is due to the impact of covid, although there may be”, which is the purpose of the rescue fund from which the 249 million would come.

The public holding company had commissioned two consultants, Grant Thornton and PKF Attest, to report on the viability of the strategic plan and the guarantees that those 249 million could be returned in the future. And the conclusions are definitive. Regarding the risk of litigation, extrajudicial claims, debt claims, execution of new guarantees and possible defaults in the subsidiaries, the document says: “These events could cause the beneficiaries to see the available cash compromised to attend to the service of the existing post-existing debt. Entry of the Terramar Financing, refinancing and PHASE and, therefore, committing the return of the aid under the established conditions”.

All in all, in recent days the Sevillian firm has opened up a crack of hope, because most of the legal disputes, with an economic amount of some 700 million euros if they were all lost, depended mostly on Abenewco 1, and the rescue had been requested for its six subsidiaries: Abener Energía, Abengoa Energía, Abengoa Agua, Abengoa Operation and Maintenance, Abengoa Solar España and Inabensa. “If the objection is only technical, there will be no problem”, explained the sources close to the company consulted.

However, the SEPI report leaves no room for doubt: “The potential impact of legal proceedings, claims, administrative files or other contingencies in which the applicant is involved may have a significant impact that could affect economic stability or to the requested temporary public financial support”. And it adds: The audit reports and the annual accounts for 2018, 2019 and 2020 “include a material uncertainty related to the company in operation, questioning the viability or ability of each of the companies to continue the activity.”

Abengoa delivered its allegations last Thursday to prevent the time limit from running. The creditor funds had extended the term, which expired on July 24, until July 30 in order not to exercise their option to file an appeal, and Terramar’s offer also expires this Thursday. The fact that the bankruptcy moratorium that the Government approved in March 2020 due to the pandemic expires on July 1 did not help in that race against time either. But that final effort has been in vain.

Entering a new contest

Now, Abenewco 1 seems to be following in the footsteps of its parent company, Abengoa SA, and its future is going through bankruptcy. “The safest thing is that it will end up reaching a liquidation broken up by productive units, because a global sale seems complicated,” says Manuel Gordillo, partner of the consulting firm Abencys.

Abengoa’s subsidiaries requested SEPI’s rescue in March 2021. To do this, the company presented a restructuring plan that went through the offer of Terramar Capital, which would inject 140 million to pay the creditors the overdue debt and that would contribute another 60 in the form of capital to acquire 70% of Abenewco 1. Financial institutions and Cesce (Spanish Export Credit Insurance Company) they would grant 300 million in guarantees, while creditors and suppliers have agreed to forgive or convert almost 3,000 million into capital.

This is the agreement that, pending SEPI, was supported by Abengoa’s creditors and investors. However, the president of the parent company, Clemente Fernández, who has always opposed the entry of the American fund into the company, announced on Wednesday that he had a plan b that went through the creditors’ agreement that must be presented before July 1 , deadline imposed by the Mercantile judge who has been conducting the bankruptcy proceedings in which Abengoa SA is immersed, since February 2021. No details of that alternative proposal have emerged, but Fernández explained to this newspaper what happened because the company enters into a pre-bankruptcy situation as of July 1, a restructuring of the company, generating an intermediate structure that safeguards the subsidiaries and that the agreed parent company assumes part of the debt, reaching new agreements with the rest of the creditors.

An option that is not viewed favorably by the bankruptcy administrator, according to sources close to EL PAÍS, and which Gordillo is also suspicious of. “All the agreement proposals before they are presented are usually accompanied by a placet on the part of the liabilities and the creditors and there does not seem to be one”, he maintains in reference to the fact that the creditor funds support the Terramar offer.

political showdown

The lace to Abengoa, a strategic company for Andalusia and one of the symbols of industrialization in a community where the weight of this sector is residual, comes in full hangover from the Andalusian elections, where the PP won the absolute majority. The previous coalition government of the Board refused to authorize the 20 million euros to which it committed to save the umpteenth viability plan of the company, alleging that it did not have a legal basis that would allow the legal fit for that transfer of money. Shortly after, Abengoa entered bankruptcy proceedings and the central executive accused the Andalusian of having caused this situation by not having fulfilled its commitment.

The same justification that the Minister of Finance, María Jesús Montero, reiterated during the campaign when asked about the rescue of SEPI. The fall of Abengoa may lead to the first disagreement between the new Government of Juan Manuel Moreno and the Executive of Pedro Sánchez. Last Tuesday, the acting Presidency counselor, Elías Bendodo, warned that the state company “should give explanations” if it did not authorize the aid, assuring that the State is the only one that has “the legal tool” to save Abengoa .

Meanwhile, the representatives of the works councils of the Sevillian company have completed their seventh day of confinement this Monday as a pressure measure so that all the parties involved reach an agreement. The 11,000 Abengoa workers —3,000 in Spain and almost 2,000 in Seville— have been the weakest link in this chain of rescues, restructurings, pre-bankruptcies, bankruptcy proceedings and unstoppable debt that the company has been linking since 2015.

The Council of Ministers approves another six grants

The Council of Ministers has authorized another six aid from the rescue fund on Monday, already within the time limit (you have until this Thursday to sign new public injections with this tool). The beneficiary companies are Celsa, ISASTUR, Vivanta, Imasa, Meeting Point and Blue Sea and the amount of the aid amounts to 721 million.

The one that will receive a greater public injection is Celsa (550 million euros), although it is pending that the company and creditors sign a new agreement that complies with the terms established by SEPI. Vivanta, for its part, will receive aid of 40 million euros, ISASTUR another 40 million and Imasa an aid of 35 million euros. The other two will go to the hotel sector: Meeting Point will receive 31 million euros and the Blue Sea hotel group another 25 million euros.

With this aid, the rescue fund has already approved 30 operations for a total value of 3,255.8 million, 32.5% of the fund’s capacity (10,000 million) and 60.3% of the 5,392.7 million that they had requested among all the companies that wanted to accept this public tool.

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