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Peugeot Citroen makes bond offering

PEUGEOT Citroen launched a convertible bond to raise up to 575 million euros (US$797 million) and still expects a 2009 operating loss, though its European sales will fall less sharply than it feared.

Peugeot Citroen said yesterday that while the European car market was still down compared with 2008, the company's "best current estimate" was for a decline of 12 percent in European unit sales instead of the 20 percent previously forecast.

The group forecast a recurring operating loss of between 1 billion and 2 billion euros, citing uncertainties over whether governments would continue supporting the sector next year, and volatile raw material prices and exchange rates.

"One to 2 billion is in line with market expectations," said Credit Suisse analyst Stuart Pearson.

"Peugeot is not reconsidering its estimate of a maximum cash burn of 4 billion euros for the year, which seems to us to be the main element to take note of at this stage," CM-CIC analysts added in a research note.

Shares rise

Peugeot shares recovered yesterday morning after opening more than 4 percent down, to trade 2.18 percent higher at 19.72 euros, outperforming the DJ Stoxx European autos sector SXAP, which rose 1.18 percent.

"We were expecting something to strengthen their balance sheets from all the mass makers," Pearson said.

Car makers need to prepare for the end of scrapping schemes - whereby drivers get cash for trading in old cars for newer, greener models - which could make for a tough 2010, Pearson said.

Peugeot Citroen said in February that it expected to remain in the red until 2010, after reporting an unexpected net loss for 2008.

The offering of bonds convertible into new or existing Peugeot Citroen shares is intended to raise between 500 million and 575 million euros. The offer runs from yesterday to Thursday and the bonds are due on January 1, 2016.

"The funds ... will provide the general financing needs of the group as well as ... its existing and future development projects in the automobile business," the group said.

Peugeot Citroen said it was not exposed to any liquidity risk for the next 12 months.


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