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Kraton Corporation Announces Pricing Of Private Offering Of Senior Notes

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Kraton Corporation Announces Pricing Of Private Offering Of Senior Notes

Kraton Corporation (NYSE: KRA) (the “Company”) today announced that Kraton Polymers LLC and Kraton Polymers Capital Corporation, its wholly-owned subsidiaries (together, the “Issuers”), priced €290.0 million in aggregate principal amount of 5.25% senior notes due 2026 (the “Notes”) in connection with their previously announced private offering of the Notes. The Notes will be general unsecured obligations of the Issuers and will be guaranteed by the Company and certain of the Issuers’ wholly-owned domestic subsidiaries that guarantee the U.S. dollar denominated borrowings under the Company’s existing senior credit facilities and outstanding senior notes.

The Company intends to use the net proceeds from the offering of the Notes and borrowings under incremental U.S. dollar denominated term loans (the “Incremental Term Loans”) under the Company’s existing senior secured term loan facility, together with borrowings under the Company’s existing asset-based revolving credit facility and/or cash on hand, to pay the consideration and accrued and unpaid interest in connection with the previously announced tender offer (the “Tender Offer”) for any and all of the Issuers’ outstanding 10.500% senior notes due 2023 (the “10.5% Notes”) and fees and expenses for the refinancing.  In connection with the commencement of the Tender Offer, the Issuers also called for redemption any 10.5% Notes that remain outstanding following the Tender Offer.

The offering of the Notes, the Incremental Term Loans and the Tender Offer are expected to close concurrently on May 24, 2018, subject to customary conditions.

The Notes and related subsidiary guarantees will be offered and sold only to persons reasonably believed to be qualified institutional buyers in the United States pursuant to Rule 144A under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”), and to persons outside of the United States pursuant to Regulation S under the Securities Act. The offer and sale of the Notes and related guarantees have not been, and will not be, registered under the Securities Act or any state securities laws and may not be offered or sold in the United States absent registration or an applicable exemption from, or in a transaction not subject to, the registration requirements of the Securities Act and applicable state laws.

This press release does not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase any of the foregoing securities, nor shall there be any sale of the securities in any state or jurisdiction in which such offer, solicitation, sale or purchase would be unlawful prior to the registration or qualification under the securities laws of any such jurisdiction.

This press release also does not constitute an offer to purchase any of the 10.5% Notes or a notice of redemption under the optional redemption provisions of the indenture governing any series of notes.

FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

Some of the statements in this press release contain forward-looking statements. This press release includes forward-looking statements that reflect our plans, beliefs, expectations, and current views with respect to, among other things, our intention to offer the Notes, borrow the Incremental Term Loans or borrow under the Company’s asset-based revolving credit facility, and the use of proceeds therefrom to fund the tender offer and related redemption and the expected closing date of those transactions. Forward-looking statements are characterized by the use of words such as “outlook,” “believes,” “estimates,” “expects,” “projects,” “may,” “intends,” “plans,” “anticipates,” “forsees” or “future.”

All forward-looking statements in this press release are made based on management’s current expectations and estimates, which involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties, and other important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed in forward-looking statements. These risks and uncertainties are more fully described in our latest Annual Report on Form 10-K, including but not limited to “Part I, Item 1A. Risk Factors” and “Part II, Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” therein, and in our other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and include, but are not limited to, risks related to: the Company’s ability to repay its indebtedness and risks associated with incurring additional indebtedness; the Company’s reliance on third parties for the provision of significant operating and other services; conditions in, and risks associated with operating in, the global economy and capital markets; fluctuations in raw material costs; limitations in the availability of raw materials; competition in the Company’s end-use markets; and other factors of which we are currently unaware or deem immaterial. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on our forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made, and we assume no obligation to update such information in light of new information or future events.

SOURCE Kraton Corporation

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Oil extends losses as Texas prepares to ramp up output

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Oil extends losses as Texas prepares to ramp up output 1

By Ahmad Ghaddar

LONDON (Reuters) – Oil prices fell from recent highs for a second day on Friday as Texas energy firms began to prepare for restarting oil and gas fields shuttered by freezing weather.

Brent crude futures were down $1.16, or 1.8%, to $62.77 per barrel, by 1150 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell $1.42, or 2.4%, to $59.10 a barrel.

Unusually cold weather in Texas and the Plains states curtailed up to 4 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil production and 21 billion cubic feet of natural gas, according to analysts.

Texas refiners halted about a fifth of the nation’s oil processing amid power outages and severe cold.

However, firms in the region on Friday were expected to prepare for production restarts as electric power and water services slowly resume, sources said.

“The market was ripe for a correction and signs of the power and overall energy situation starting to normalise in Texas provided the necessary trigger,” said Vandana Hari, energy analyst at Vanda Insights.

Oil fell despite a surprise fall in U.S. crude stockpiles in the week to Feb. 12, before the freeze. Inventories fell by 7.3 million barrels to 461.8 million barrels, their lowest since March, the Energy Information Administration reported on Thursday. [EIA/S]

The United States on Thursday said it was ready to talk to Iran about both nations returning to a 2015 agreement that aimed to prevent Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

While the thawing relations could raise the prospect of reversing sanctions imposed by the previous U.S. administration, analysts did not expect Iranian oil sanctions to be lifted anytime soon.

“This breakthrough increases the probability that we may see Iran returning to the oil market soon, although there is much to be discussed and a new deal will not be a carbon-copy of the 2015 nuclear deal,” StoneX analyst Kevin Solomon said.

(Additional reporting by Roslan Khasawneh in Singapore and Sonali Paul in Melbourne; editing by Jason Neely)

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Analysis: Carmakers wake up to new pecking order as chip crunch intensifies

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Analysis: Carmakers wake up to new pecking order as chip crunch intensifies 2

By Douglas Busvine and Christoph Steitz

BERLIN (Reuters) – The semiconductor crunch that has battered the auto sector leaves carmakers with a stark choice: pay up, stock up or risk getting stuck on the sidelines as chipmakers focus on more lucrative business elsewhere.

Car manufacturers including Volkswagen, Ford and General Motors have cut output as the chip market was swept clean by makers of consumer electronics such as smartphones – the chip industry’s preferred customers because they buy more advanced, higher-margin chips.

The semiconductor shortage – over $800 worth of silicon is packed into a modern electric vehicle – has exposed the disconnect between an auto industry spoilt by decades of just-in-time deliveries and an electronics industry supply chain it can no longer bend to its will.

“The car sector has been used to the fact that the whole supply chain is centred around cars,” said McKinsey partner Ondrej Burkacky. “What has been overlooked is that semiconductor makers actually do have an alternative.”

Automakers are responding to the shortage by lobbying governments to subsidize the construction of more chip-making capacity.

In Germany, Volkswagen has pointed the finger at suppliers, saying it gave them timely warning last April – when much global car production was idled due to the coronavirus pandemic – that it expected demand to recover strongly in the second half of the year.

That complaint by the world’s No.2 volume carmaker cuts little ice with chipmakers, who say the auto industry is both quick to cancel orders in a slump and to demand investment in new production in a recovery.

“Last year we had to furlough staff and bear the cost of carrying idle capacity,” said a source at one European semiconductor maker, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“If the carmakers are asking us to invest in new capacity, can they please tell us who will pay for that idle capacity in the next downturn?”

LOW-TECH CUSTOMER

The auto industry spends around $40 billion a year on chips – about a tenth of the global market. By comparison, Apple spends more on chips just to make its iPhones, Mirabaud tech analyst Neil Campling reckons.

Moreover, the chips used in cars tend to be basic products such as micro controllers made under contract at older foundries – hardly the leading-edge production technology in which chipmakers would be willing to invest.

“The suppliers are saying: ‘If we continue to produce this stuff there is nowhere else for it to go. Sony isn’t going to use it for a Playstation 5 or Apple for its next iPhone’,” said Asif Anwar at Strategy Analytics.

Chipmakers were surprised by the panicked reaction of the German car industry, which persuaded Economy Minister Peter Altmaier to write a letter in January to his counterpart in Taiwan to ask its semiconductor makers to supply more chips.

No extra supplies were forthcoming, with one German industry source joking that the Americans stood a better chance of getting more chips from Taiwan because they could at least park an aircraft carrier off the coast – referring to the ability of the United States to project power in Asia.

Closer to home, a source at another European chipmaker expressed disbelief at the poor understanding at one carmaker of how it operates.

“We got a call from one auto maker that was desperate for supply. They said: Why don’t you run a night shift to increase production?” this person said.

“What they didn’t understand is that we have been running a night shift since the beginning.”

NO QUICK FIX

While Infineon, the leading supplier of chips to the global auto industry, and Robert Bosch, the top ‘Tier 1’ parts supplier, both plan to commission new chip plants this year, there is little chance of supply shortages easing soon.

Specialist chipmakers like Infineon outsource some production of automotive chips to contract manufacturers led by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC), but the Asian foundries are currently prioritising high-end electronics makers as they come up against capacity constraints.

Over the longer term, the relationship between chip makers and the car industry will become closer as electric vehicles are more widely adopted and features such as assisted and autonomous driving develop, requiring more advanced chips.

But, in the short term, there is no quick fix for the lack of chip supply: IHS Markit estimates that the time it takes to deliver a microcontroller has doubled to 26 weeks and shortages will only bottom out in March.

That puts the production of 1 million light vehicles at risk in the first quarter, says IHS Markit. European chip industry executives and analysts agree that supply will not catch up with demand until later in the year.

Chip shortages are having a “snowball effect” as auto makers idle some capacity to prioritize building profitable models, said Anwar at Strategy Analytics, who forecasts a drop in car production in Europe and North America of 5%-10% in 2021.

The head of Franco-Italian chipmaker STMicroelectronics, Jean-Marc Chery, forecasts capacity constraints will affect carmakers until mid-year.

“Up to the end of the second quarter, the industry will have to manage at the lean inventory level,” Chery told a recent Goldman Sachs conference.

(Douglas Busvine from Berlin and Christoph Steitz from Frankfurt; Additional reporting by Mathieu Rosemain and Gilles Gillaume in Paris; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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Aussie and sterling hit multi-year highs on recovery bets

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Aussie and sterling hit multi-year highs on recovery bets 3

By Tommy Wilkes

LONDON (Reuters) – The Australian dollar rose to near a three-year high and the British pound scaled $1.40 for the first time since 2018 on optimism about economic rebounds in the two countries and after the U.S. dollar was knocked by disappointing jobs data.

The U.S. currency had been rising in recent days as a jump in Treasury yields on the back of the so-called reflation trade drew investors. But an unexpected increase in U.S. weekly jobless claims soured the economic outlook and sent the dollar lower overnight.

On Friday it traded down 0.3% against a basket of currencies, with the dollar index at 90.309.

The Aussie rose 0.8% to $0.784, its highest since March 2018. The currency, which is closely linked to commodity prices and the outlook for global growth, has been helped by a recent rally in commodity prices.

The New Zealand dollar also gained, and was not far off a more than two-year high, while the Canadian dollar rose too.

Sterling rose to $1.4009 on Friday, an almost three-year high amid Britain’s aggressive vaccination programme.

Given the size of Britain’s vital services sector, analysts say the faster it can reopen the economy, the better for the currency. Sterling was also helped by better-than-expected purchasing managers index flash survey data for February.

The U.S. dollar has been weighed down by a string of soft labour data, even as other indicators have shown resilience, and as President Joe Biden’s pandemic relief efforts take shape, including a proposed $1.9 trillion spending package.

Despite the recent rise in U.S. yields, many analysts think they won’t climb too much higher, limiting the benefit for the dollar.

“Our view remains that the Fed will hold the line and remain very cautious about tapering asset purchases. We think it will keep communicating that tightening is very far off, which should dampen pro-dollar sentiment,” said UBS Global Wealth Management strategist Gaétan Peroux and analyst Tilmann Kolb.

ING analysts said “the rise in rates will be self-regulating, meaning the dollar need not correct too much higher”.

They see the greenback index trading down to the 90.10 to 91.05 range.

U.S. dollar

Aussie and sterling hit multi-year highs on recovery bets 4

The euro rose 0.4% to $1.2134. The single currency showed little reaction to purchasing manager index data, which showed a slowdown in business activity in February. However, factories had their busiest month in three years, buoying sentiment.

The dollar bought 105.39 yen, down 0.3% and a continued retreat from the five-month high of 106.225 reached Wednesday.

(Editing by Hugh Lawson and Pravin Char)

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