Callebaut has moved from a BBB- corporate rating to BB+ and has been handed a negative outlook because Standard and Poor’s viewed the chocolate firm's Petra buy as a more aggressive financial policy than anticipated.
Victor Balli, chief financial officer of Barry Callebaut, said the company expected and communicated in December 2012 that a downgrade could occur after the Petra acquisition.
“We are convinced of the strategic long-term value of this important strategic acquisition and, based on our long-term strategy; we will continue to invest in future growth. Despite such investments might temporarily affect our profitability, balance sheet ratios and cash generation, we are fully committed to go back to investment grade within the next few years."
Barry Callebaut will propose to finance the Petra acquisition through a combination of new equity worth $300m and a $600m bond offering at an Extraordinary General Meeting of Shareholders on 22 April.