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02 Nov 2020 | 11:38

Proton Motor Power agrees lower-cost financing deal

(Sharecast News) - Fuel cell and electric hybrid technology company Proton Motor Power Systems has agreed with SFN CleanTech Investment and Falih Nahab to amend the terms of its existing loans and financing facilities, it announced on Monday, on terms more favourable to the company. The AIM-traded firm said it currently has loans of €29m from SFN and €53.7m from Nahab outstanding, including principal and interest.

As it announced on 23 June, they were part of financing facilities provided by SFN and Nahab, which expire on 31 December 2021.

Interest on the loans was being charged at 10% and the interest, but not the principal, was convertible at the option of SFN and Nahab into shares in Proton.

At 30 June, £18.12m of accrued interest was convertible at 2p per share.

The board announced that as interest from 1 July would no longer be convertible, there would be no interest convertible to shares at 48p, which it had indicated on 23 June.

Under the amended terms, interest payable on the existing and future loans would, from 1 January 2021, be charged at a reduced rate of 3% over LIBOR, with new interest accruing from 1 July no longer be convertible into shares, so that the maximum number of shares which could be issued as a result of conversion of the interest on the loans was fixed as at 30 June.

In addition, the existing facilities, amounting to €64.9m excluding interest, and the date when the loans become repayable, had now been extended from 31 December 2021 to 31 December 2025.

The right to convert the interest outstanding at 30 June had been extended to 31 December 2031.

As it had previously stated, the undrawn portions of the loan facilities were expected to allow the company to satisfy its working capital needs until at least June 2021.

The board said Falih Nahab also agreed that, unless otherwise requested by the company or as a result of institutional demand for shares, he would limit the annual conversion of interest accrued up to 30 June into shares so that no more than 42 million shares per year would be issued.

Proceeds from any sale of shares by SFN and Nahab would continue to be used to provide further financing for the company, as it had previously announced.

"The company's board of directors recognises that the long term preparedness of Falih Nahab and SFN to provide financing for the company's operations and development programme has contributed vitally to the high level of focus in advancing its hydrogen related technology to its current stage, and that the above mentioned measures serve to further alleviate the company's cost structure and to improve the balance sheet situation," the board explained in its statement.

"The change to the interest rate payable on the loans will serve to substantially lower Proton´s interest charge burden.

"The company's board believes that the extension of the existing facilities to the end of 2025 will allow the company to pursue with confidence the many opportunities that the company has, in addition to those which the board believes will become available as a result of the German government's National Hydrogen Strategy, including €7bn to be allocated to the German hydrogen sector as contained in the German economic stimulus package passed in June, the UK Government's forthcoming energy white paper, and also EU initiatives such as the European Alliance for Green Hydrogen."

At 1131 GMT, shares in Proton Motor Power Systems were up 4.95% at 53p.
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