By Julia Payne
LONDON, March 18 (Reuters) – Puma Energy posted a net loss in 2020 after taking a hit on asset sales though core earnings edged higher despite the COVID-19 crisis as its shareholders provided fuel on favourable terms, the fuel retailer said on Thursday.
Puma, whose largest shareholder is commodities trader Trafigura, lost $348 million after booking impairment charges and foreign exchange losses of $324 million on asset sales.
The company, which is based in Geneva, has retail and oil storage businesses in Latin America, Asia and Africa. It suspended operations in Myanmar last month following the military coup.
Puma’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA), however, rose 0.5% from the previous year to $533 million.
“We delivered an EBITDA in 2020 broadly similar to 2019, a significant achievement in the circumstances,” Chief Executive Emma Fitzgerald said in a statement.
“I am grateful to our key shareholders for the supplier price adjustment support at the start of the crisis, which gave us the breathing space to position the business correctly for the duration of the pandemic,” she said.
Fuel consumption crashed during global lockdowns in March and April last year to stop the first wave of COVID-19, hitting retailers particularly hard.
After a decade of rapid expansion, the firm has been reorganising and selling assets including its once highly profitable Australian business.
Puma, which lost $792 million last year, has not made a full-year profit since 2017. In 2019, Puma had impairments of over $600 million largely related to the Australian business.
Puma announced a $1.1 billion stock issue this month to recapitalise the firm in a deal that will boost Trafigura’s stake. Puma’s second largest shareholder, Angolan state oil firm Sonangol, is looking to reduce its 31.7% stake. (Reporting by Julia Payne; Editing by David Clarke)
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