Biggest beneficiaries of the now scuttled rescue plan would have been private equity firm KKR and Banco Santander.
Abengoa, the global renewables energy giant that was caught cooking its books in 2015, collapsed a year later but narrowly avoided insolvency by restructuring €9 billion of its debt and receiving a government bailout, only to hit the rocks again in 2018 and restructure even more debt and receive yet another bailout, has just hit the rocks again and filed for insolvency after the regional government of Andalusia withdrew an offer of a measly €20 million in funding as part of Abengoa’s latest rescue deal. Abengoa’s lenders finally lost patience and turned off the money taps.
Bloomberg described it as the biggest insolvency filing in Spanish history, before retracting the claim hours later. According to El País, it is the second largest, after Martinsa Fadesa’s collapse in 2008 under a €7.2 billion debt load.
As of March 31 2020, Abengoa purportedly had €5.9 billion of debt still sitting on its books — more than two thirds of it short term. That’s according to its financial statement for 2019, which it didn’t release until February 21, 2021 — just three days ago and over a year after deadline — and which still hasn’t been signed off by its auditor, PwC.
Of course, it’s perfectly possible that Abengoa’s debt load is larger than it claims. The company has form when it comes to hiding monstrous amounts of debt from investors and regulators for inordinate lengths of time.
What’s more, its 2019 financial statement did not include the all-essential auditor’s report, for the apparent reason that the board didn’t even bother sending the document to its auditor, PwC, before publishing it. This is not just highly improper, it contravenes Spain’s market regulations. It also makes the document virtually worthless. And that was enough to finally spur market regulator CNMV into action, which has launched an investigation into Abengoa’s board of directors.
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