November 20, 2008

Australia's Graincorp comfortable with gearing level


Australia's GrainCorp Ltd. (GNC.AU) is comfortable with its overall gearing level, Managing Director Mark Irwin said Thursday (November 20).


The company's gearing, or non-current borrowings to equity, fell to 51.5 percent last fiscal year from 57.2 percent the previous fiscal year ended Sep. 30, 2007, a decline that primarily reflected the impact of raising A$60 million through a share placement, he said.


"I wish it was lower but it's not, but we're comfortable with it at this point in time," he told reporters and analysts in a telephone briefing.


GrainCorp, which operates nine coastal export terminals and dominates the industry in eastern Australia, has announced a 12 percent increase in base port terminals fees, which is equivalent to A$1.48/tonne, and is also looking at a proposed expansion leading to a doubling of woodchip throughput at its Portland terminal, he said.


As for GrainCorp's 60 percent-owned Allied Mills Pty. Ltd. unit, a new A$97 million "state of the art" wheat and corn flour mill will commence operations at Picton southwest Sydney later this month, with decommissioning at the Albury and Summer Hill mills to start in December, he said.


Cargill Australia Ltd. owns the 40 percent balance of Allied Mills.

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