SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
REGISTRATION STATEMENT PURSUANT TO SECTION 12(b) or (g) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
SHELL COMPANY REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
Date of event requiring this shell company report
Commission file number:
(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its charter)
(Jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)
(Address of principal executive offices)
(Name, Telephone, E-mail and/or Facsimile number and Address of Company Contact Person)
Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act
Title of each class
Name of each exchange on which registered
Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act.
Securities for which there is a reporting obligation pursuant to Section 15(d) of the Act.
Indicate the number of outstanding shares of each of the issuer’s classes of capital or common stock as of the close of the period covered by the annual report.
Ordinary Shares (nominal value of $0.01)
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.
If this report is an annual or transition report, indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Yes ◻
Note—Checking the box above will not relieve any registrant required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 from their obligations under those Sections.
Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the Registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate website, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§ 232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files).
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act:
Accelerated filer ◻
Non-accelerated filer ◻
Emerging growth company
If an emerging growth company that prepares its financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards† provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. ◻
† The term “new or revised financial accounting standard” refers to any update issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board to its Accounting Standards Codification after April 5, 2012.
† Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report
Indicate by check mark which basis of accounting the registrant has used to prepare the financial statements included in this filing:
U.S. GAAP ◻
by the International Accounting Standards Board ⌧
If “Other” has been checked in response to the previous question, indicate by check mark which financial statement item the registrant has elected to follow.
Item 17 ◻ Item 18 ◻
If this is an annual report, indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). Yes
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CAUTIONARY STATEMENTS REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
This annual report includes statements that are, or may be deemed to be, forward-looking statements within the meaning of the securities laws of certain applicable jurisdictions. These forward-looking statements are made under the "safe harbor" provision under Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, and as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, all statements other than statements of historical facts contained in this annual report, including, without limitation, those regarding our future financial position and results of operations, our strategy, plans, objectives, goals and targets, future developments in the markets in which we operate or are seeking to operate or anticipated regulatory changes in the markets in which we operate or intend to operate. These statements are often, but not always, made through the use of words or phrases such as “believe,” “anticipate,” “could,” “may,” “would,” “should,” “intend,” “plan,” “potential,” “predict(s),” “will,” “expect(s),” “estimate(s),” “project(s),” “positioned,” “strategy,” “outlook,” “aim,” “assume,” “continue,” “forecast,” “guidance,” “projected,” “risk” and similar expressions.
By their nature, forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties because they relate to events and depend on circumstances that may or may not occur in the future. Forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and are based on numerous assumptions. Our actual results of operations, financial condition and the development of events may differ materially from (and be more negative than) those made in, or suggested by, the forward-looking statements. Investors should read the section entitled “Item 3.D.—Key Information—Risk Factors” and the description of our segments in the section entitled “Item 4.B.—Information on the Company—Business Overview” for a more complete discussion of the factors that could affect us. All such forward-looking statements involve estimates and assumptions that are subject to risks, uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from the results expressed in, or suggested by, the statements. Among the key factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements are the following:
|●||the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic;|
|●||the impacts of the Ukraine-Russia conflict;|
|●||increase in energy prices, disruptions in the supply of power and changes in governmental regulation of the power sector and the effect on costs of production;|
|●||our ability to sucessfully manage our debt;|
|●||the outcomes of pending or potential litigation;|
|●||operating costs, customer loss and business disruption (including, without limitation, difficulties in maintaining relationships with employees, customers, clients or suppliers) may be greater than expected;|
|●||the retention of certain key employees;|
|●||intense competition and expected increased competition in the future;|
|●||our ability to adapt products and services to changes in technology or the marketplace;|
|●||our ability to maintain and grow relationships with customers and clients;|
|●||the historic cyclicality of the metals industry and the attendant swings in market price and demand;|
|●||availability of raw materials and transportation;|
|●||the cost of raw material inputs and the ability to pass along those costs to customers;|
|●||costs associated with labor disputes and stoppages;|
|●||our ability to maintain our liquidity and to generate sufficient cash to service indebtedness;|
|●||integration and development of prior and future acquisitions;|
|●||our ability to implement strategic initiatives and actions taken to increase sales growth;|
|●||our ability to compete successfully;|
|●||the availability and cost of maintaining adequate levels of insurance;|
|●||our ability to protect trade secrets, trademarks and other intellectual property;|
|●||equipment failures, delays in deliveries or catastrophic loss at any of our manufacturing facilities, which may not be covered under any insurance policy;|
|●||exchange rate fluctuations;|
|●||changes in laws protecting U.S., Canadian and European Union companies from unfair foreign competition (including antidumping and countervailing duty orders and laws) or the measures currently in place or expected to be imposed under those laws;|
|●||compliance with, or potential liability under, environmental, health and safety laws and regulations (and changes in such laws and regulations, including in their enforcement or interpretation);|
|●||risks from international operations, such as foreign exchange fluctuations, tariffs, duties and other taxation, inflation, increased costs, political risks and our ability to maintain and increase business in international markets;|
|●||risks associated with mining operations, metallurgical smelting and other manufacturing activities;|
|●||our ability to manage price and operational risks including industrial accidents and natural disasters;|
|●||our ability to acquire or renew permits and approvals;|
|●||potential losses due to unanticipated cancellations of service contracts;|
|●||risks associated with potential unionization of employees or work stoppages that could adversely affect our operations;|
|●||changes in tax laws (including under applicable tax treaties) and regulations or to the interpretation of such tax laws or regulations by governmental authorities;|
|●||changes in general economic, business and political conditions, including changes in the financial markets;|
|●||uncertainties and challenges surrounding the implementation and development of new technologies;|
|●||risks related to our capital structure;|
|●||risks related to our ordinary shares; and|
|●||our ability to achieve the intended results of our transformation plan.|
These and other factors are more fully discussed in the “Item 3.D.—Key Information—Risk Factors” and “Item 4.B.—Information on the Company—Business Overview” sections and elsewhere in this annual report.
The factors described above and set forth in “Item 3.D.—Key Information—Risk Factors” section are not exhaustive. Other sections of this annual report describe additional factors that could adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations. Moreover, we operate in a very competitive and rapidly changing commercial environment. New risk factors emerge from time to time and it is not possible for us to predict or list all such risks, nor can we assess the impact of all possible risks on our business or the extent to which any factor, or combination of factors, may cause actual results to differ materially from those contained, or implied by, in any forward-looking statements.
The forward-looking statements made in this annual report relate only to events or information as of the date on which the statements are made in this annual report. Except as required by law, we undertake no obligation to update or revise publicly any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, after the date on which the statements are made or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events. You should read this annual report and the documents we reference herein carefully and completely, with the understanding that our actual future results or performance may be materially different from what we anticipate.
CURRENCY PRESENTATION AND DEFINITIONS
In this annual report, references to “$,” “US$” and “U.S. Dollars” are to the lawful currency of the United States of America, references to “Euro” and “€” are to the single currency adopted by participating member states of the European Union relating to Economic and Monetary Union and references to “Pound Sterling” and “£” are to the lawful currency of the United Kingdom.
Unless otherwise specified or the context requires otherwise, all financial information for the Company provided in this annual report is denominated in U.S. Dollars.
Unless otherwise specified or the context requires otherwise in this annual report:
|●||the terms (1) “we,” “us,” “our,” “Company,” “Ferroglobe,” and “our business” refer to Ferroglobe PLC and its subsidiaries, including Globe Specialty Metals, Inc. (“Globe”) and its consolidated subsidiaries and Grupo FerroAtlántica, S.A.U. (“FerroAtlántica”) and its consolidated subsidiaries; (2) “Globe” refers solely to Globe Specialty Metals, Inc. and its consolidated subsidiaries and (3) “FerroAtlántica” or the “FerroAtlántica Group” refers solely to FerroAtlántica and its consolidated subsidiaries;|
|●||“Business Combination” refers to the business combination of Globe and FerroAtlántica as wholly-owned subsidiaries of Ferroglobe PLC on December 23, 2015;|
|●||“Class A Ordinary Shares” refers to share capital issued in connection with the Business Combination, which was subsequently converted into ordinary shares of Ferroglobe PLC as a result of the distribution of beneficial interest units in the Ferroglobe Representation and Warranty Insurance Trust to certain Ferroglobe PLC shareholders on November 18, 2016;|
|●||“Consolidated Financial Statements” refers to the audited consolidated financial statements of Ferroglobe PLC and its subsidiaries as of December 31, 2021 and December 31, 2020 and for each of the years ended December 31, 2021, 2020 and 2019, including the related notes thereto, prepared in accordance with IFRS (as such terms are defined herein);|
|●||“IFRS” refers to International Financial Reporting Standards as issued by the International Accounting Standards Board;|
|●||“Indenture” refers to the indenture, dated as of February 15, 2017, among Ferroglobe PLC and Globe Specialty Metals, Inc. as co-issuers, certain subsidiaries of Ferroglobe PLC as guarantors, and Wilmington Trust, National Association as trustee, registrar, transfer agent and paying agent;|
|●||“Notes” refer to the $350,000,000 aggregate principal amount of senior unsecured notes bearing interest of 9.375% issued by Ferroglobe PLC and Globe Specialty Metals, Inc., due March 1, 2022 (the “Notes”);|
|●||“Reinstated Senior Notes” refer to the notes issued in exchange of 98.588% of the 9.375% Notes due 2022 issued by Ferroglobe Finance Company PLC and Globe due December 2025;|
|●||“Super Senior Notes” refer to the 9% senior secured notes due 2025 issued by Ferroglobe Finance Company, PLC;|
|●||“Stub Notes” refer to the $4,942 thousand aggregate principal amount of 9.375% Notes due March 1, 2022;|
|●||“Predecessor” refers to FerroAtlántica for all periods prior to the Business Combination;|
|●||“Antecessor” refers to Globe for all periods prior to the Business Combination;|
|●||“Revolving Credit Facility” refers to borrowings available under the credit agreement, dated as of February 27, 2018, as amended on or about October 31, 2018 and February 22, 2019, among Ferroglobe PLC, as borrower, certain subsidiaries of Ferroglobe PLC from time to time party thereto as guarantors, the financial institutions from time to time party thereto as lenders, PNC Bank, National Association, as administrative agent, issuing lender and swing loan lender, PNC Capital Markets LLC, Citizens Bank, National Association and BMO Capital Markets Corp., as joint legal arrangers and bookrunners, Citizens Bank, National Association, as syndication agent, and BMO Capital Markets Corp., as documentation agent, as amended from time to time;|
|●||“shares” or “ordinary shares” refer to the authorized share capital of Ferroglobe PLC;|
|●||“tons” refer to metric tons (approximately 2,204.6 pounds or 1.1 short tons);|
|●||“U.S. Exchange Act” refers to the U.S. Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended; and|
|●||“U.S. Securities Act” refers to the U.S. Securities Act of 1933, as amended.|
|●||“ABL Revolver” refers to credit available under the credit agreement, dated as of October, 11, 2019, Ferroglobe subsidiaries Globe Specialty Metals, Inc., and QSIP Canada ULC, as borrowers, entered into a Credit and Security Agreement for a new $100 million north American asset-based revolving credit facility, with PNC Bank, N.A., as lender.|
|●||“SPE” refers to Ferrous Receivables DAC, a special purpose entity domiciled and incorporated in Ireland to which trade receivables generated by the Company’s subsidiaries in the United States, Canada, Spain and France were sold.|
|●||“LIBOR” refers to the basic rate of interest used under the ABL Revolver, the interest to be paid will be LIBOR plus aplicable margin.|
|●||“IBOR” refers to the basic rate of interest used under one of the tranches of the SEPI loan, the interest to be paid is calculated as IBOR plus a spread of 2.5% in the first year, 3.5% in the second and third years and 5.0% in the fourth year, plus an additional 1.0% payable if the result before taxes of the Beneficiaries is positive.|
|●||“Leasing and Factoring Agent” refers to the finance entity which signed, on October 2, 2020, a factoring agreement with Grupo Ferroatlantica S.A.U. and Ferropem, Ferrgolobe’s subsidiaries, to anticipate the collection of accounts receivable.|
|●||“ZAR” refers to the currency abbreviation in forex markets for the South African Rand, the official currency of South Africa.|
PRESENTATION OF FINANCIAL INFORMATION
The selected financial information as of December 31, 2021 and December 31, 2020 and for the years ended December 31, 2021, 2020 and 2019 is derived from our Consolidated Financial Statements, which are included elsewhere in this annual report and which are prepared in accordance with IFRS.
Certain numerical figures set out in this annual report, including financial data presented in millions or thousands and percentages describing market shares, have been subject to rounding adjustments, and, as a result, the totals of the data in this annual report may vary slightly from the actual arithmetic totals of such information. Percentages and amounts reflecting changes over time periods relating to financial and other data set forth in “Item 5.—Operating and Financial Review and Prospects” are calculated using the numerical data in our Consolidated Financial Statements or the tabular presentation of other data (subject to rounding) contained in this annual report, as applicable, and not using the numerical data in the narrative description thereof.
ITEM 1. IDENTITY OF DIRECTORS, SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND ADVISERS
ITEM 2. OFFER STATISTICS AND EXPECTED TIMETABLE
ITEM 3. KEY INFORMATION
A. Selected Financial Data
B. Capitalization and indebtedness.
C. Reasons for the offer and use of proceeds.
D. Risk factors.
An investment in our ordinary shares carries a significant degree of risk. You should carefully consider the following risks and all other information in this annual report, including our Consolidated Financial Statements elsewhere in the 20-F. Additional risks and uncertainties we are not presently aware of, or that we currently deem immaterial, could also affect our business operations and financial condition. If any of these risks are realized, our business, results of operations and financial condition could be adversely affected to a material degree. As a result, the trading price of our ordinary shares could decline and you could lose part or all of your investment.
Risks Related to Our Business and Industry
Our operations depend on industries including the aluminum, steel, polysilicon, silicone and photovoltaic/solar industries, which, in turn, rely on several end-markets. A downturn or change in these industries or end-markets could adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Because we primarily sell silicon metal, silicon based alloys, manganese based alloys and other specialty alloys we produce to manufacturers of aluminum, steel, polysilicon, silicones, and photovoltaic products, our results are significantly affected by the economic trends in the steel, aluminum, polysilicon, silicone and photovoltaic industries. Primary end users that drive demand for steel and aluminum include construction companies, shipbuilders, electric appliance and car manufacturers, and companies operating in the rail and maritime industries. Primary end users that drive demand for polysilicon and silicones include the automotive, chemical, photovoltaic, pharmaceutical, construction and consumer products industries. Demand for steel, aluminum, polysilicon and silicones from such companies is strongly correlated with changes in gross domestic product and is affected by global economic conditions. Fluctuations in steel and aluminum prices may occur due to sustained price shifts reflecting underlying global economic and geopolitical factors, changes in industry supply-demand balances, the substitution of one product for another in times of scarcity, and changes in national tariffs. Lower demand for steel and aluminum can quickly cause a substantial build-up of steel and aluminum stocks, resulting in a decline in demand for silicon metal, silicon-based alloys, manganese-based alloys, and other specialty alloys. Polysilicon and silicone producers are subject to fluctuations in crude oil, platinum, methanol and natural gas prices, which could adversely affect their businesses. Changes in power regulations in different countries, fluctuations in the relative
costs of different sources of energy, and supply-demand balances in the different parts of the value chain, among other factors, may significantly affect the growth prospects of the photovoltaic industry. A significant and prolonged downturn in the end markets for steel, aluminum, polysilicon, silicone and photovoltaic products, could adversely affect these industries and, in turn, our business, results of operations and financial condition.
COVID-19 has had a material detrimental impact on our business and financial results, and such impact could continue and may worsen for an unknown period of time.
COVID-19 has been and continues to be a complex and evolving situation, with governments, public institutions and other organizations imposing or recommending, and businesses and individuals implementing, at various times and to varying degrees, restrictions on various activities or other actions to combat its spread, such as restrictions and bans on travel or transportation; limitations on the size of in-person gatherings, restrictions on freight transportations, closures of, or occupancy or other operating limitations on work facilities, and quarantines and lock-downs. COVID-19 and its consequences have significantly impacted and continue to impact our business, operations, and financial results. The extent to which COVID-19 impacts our business, operations, and financial results going forward will depend on the factors described above and numerous other evolving factors that we may not be able to accurately predict or assess, including the duration and scope of the COVID-19 pandemic; the effectiveness of vaccines or treatments; COVID-19’s impact on global and regional economies and economic activity, including the duration and magnitude of its impact on unemployment rates; its short and longer-term impact on the demand for our products, group business, and levels of customer confidence; the ability of our owners to successfully navigate the impacts of COVID-19; and how quickly economies, and demand recovers after the pandemic subsides.
COVID-19 has negatively impacted, and in the future may negatively impact to an extent we are unable to predict, our revenues. In addition, COVID-19 and its impact on global and regional economies, and the specialty chemical industry in particular, has made it difficult to obtain financing and has increased the probability that we will be unable or unwilling to service, repay or refinance existing indebtedness. If a significant number of our sales volumes are terminated as a result of bankruptcies, sales or foreclosures, our results of operations could be materially adversely affected. Also, testing our intangible assets or goodwill for impairments could result in additional charges, which could be material. For the reasons set forth above, COVID-19 has had and may in the future will have a material adverse effect on our business, operations, and financial condition.
The metals industry is cyclical and has been subject in the past to swings in market price and demand which could lead to volatility in our revenues.
Our business has historically been subject to fluctuations in the price of our products and market demand for them, caused by general and regional economic cycles, raw material and energy price fluctuations, competition and other factors. The timing, magnitude and duration of these cycles and the resulting price fluctuations are difficult to predict. For example, we experienced a weakened economic environment in national and international metals markets, including a sharp decrease in silicon metal prices in all major markets, from late 2014 to late 2017. During the second half of 2018 and throughout 2019, we experienced the most dramatic decline in prevailing prices of our products, which adversely affected our results. In 2020, the business experienced a reduction in sales volumes as a result of lower customer demand and a decrease in prices variance.
Historically, Ferroglobe’s indirect subsidiary Globe Metallurgical Inc., has been affected by recessionary conditions in the end markets for its products, such as the automotive and construction industries. In April 2003, Globe Metallurgical Inc. sought protection under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code following its inability to restructure or refinance its indebtedness amidst a confluence of several negative economic and other factors, including an influx of low priced, dumped imports, which caused it to default on then outstanding indebtedness. A recurrence of such economic factors could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Additionally, as a result of unfavorable conditions in the end markets for its products, Globe Metales S.R.L. (“Globe Metales”) went through reorganization proceedings (“concurso preventivo”) in 1999, which ended in February 2019. While such reorganization proceedings were ongoing (until February 2019), Globe Metales could not dispose of or
encumber its registered assets (including its real estate) or perform any action outside its ordinary course of business without prior court approval.
In addition to the deterioration of market conditions for several of our products in the second half of 2018 and the whole of 2019, we also saw a contraction in sales volumes during 2020 which was primarily driven by the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout 2021, COVID -19 and its consequences continue to impact our business, operations, and financial results. Such conditions, and any future decline in the global silicon metal, manganese-based alloys and silicon-based alloys industries could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition. Moreover, our business is directly related to the production levels of our customers, whose businesses are dependent on highly cyclical markets, such as the automotive, residential and non-residential construction, consumer durables, polysilicon, steel, and chemical industries. In response to unfavorable market conditions, customers may request delays in contract shipment dates or other contract modifications. If we grant modifications, these could adversely affect our anticipated revenues and results of operations. Also, many of our products are traded internationally at prices that are significantly affected by worldwide supply and demand. Consequently, our financial performance will fluctuate with the general economic cycle, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Our business is particularly sensitive to increases in energy costs, which could materially increase our cost of production.
Electricity is one of our largest production components. The price of electricity is determined in the applicable domestic jurisdiction and is influenced both by supply and demand dynamics and by domestic regulations. Changes in local energy policy, increased costs due to scarcity of energy supply, climate conditions, the termination or non-renewal of any of our power purchase contracts and other factors may affect the price of electricity supplied to our plants and adversely affect our results of operations and financial conditions.
Because electricity is indispensable to our operations and accounts for a high percentage of our production costs, we are particularly vulnerable to supply limitations and cost fluctuations in energy markets. For example, at certain of our plants, production must be modulated to reduce consumption of energy in peak hours or in seasons with higher energy prices, in order for us to maintain profitability. Generation of electricity in France by our own hydroelectric power operations partially mitigates our exposure to price increases in that market. However, in the past we have pursued possibilities of disposing of those operations, and may do so in the future. Such a divestiture, if completed, may result in a greater exposure to increases in electricity prices. Similarly, the disposal in 2019 of our hydroelectric assets in Spain has resulted, and may result in the future, in a greater exposure to price fluctuations, for our Spanish ferroalloys business and therefore home impacted margins. In 2021 the cost of electricity in Spain has experienced extremely high volatility due to the fluctuations of natural gas in the European markets. Natural gas has experienced a progressive increase in price since April 2021, due to the low level of stocks in gas storages in Europe, and the reduction of supply from Russia, following the growing demand for Natural Gas from China. The risk of natural gas shortages due to a possible cold winter in Europe, caused in December 2021 an unprecedented increase in the price of gas reaching record prices in the market, which led to record prices in the Spanish electricity market of up to 400 €/Mwh. Spanish plants have tried to mitigate price rises by reducing furnace capacity during peak hours and increasing production at more competitive furnaces.
Electrical power to our U.S. and Canadian facilities is supplied mostly by American Electric Power Co., Alabama Power Co., Brookfield Renewable Partners L.P. and Hydro-Québec, and the Tennessee Valley Authority through dedicated lines. Our Alloy, West Virginia facility obtains approximately 45% of its power needs under a fixed price power purchase agreement with a nearby hydroelectric facility owned by a Brookfield affiliate. This facility is over 70 years old and any breakdown could result in the Alloy facility having to purchase more grid power at higher rates. The hydropower contract with Brookfield for the Alloy plant was renewed in 2021 for a period of four years. The energy supply for our Mendoza, Argentina facility is supplied by the national network administrator Cammesa under a power agreement expiring in December 2024 with a special rate specifically approved for ultra electro intensive industries.
Energy supply to our facilities in South Africa is provided by Eskom (State-owned power utility) through rates that are approved annually by the national power regulator (NERSA). These rates have had an upward trend in the past years, due to the instability of available supply and are likely to continue increasing. Also, NERSA applies certain revisions to rates based on cost variances for Eskom that are not within our control.
In Spain, power is purchased in a competitive wholesale market. Our facilities have to pay access tariffs to the national grid and get a small compensation for having been recognized as electro-intensive consumers. The volatile nature of the wholesale market in Spain results in price uncertainty that can be only partially offset by long term power purchase agreements. Also, the payment we receive for the services provided to the grid are a major component of our power supply arrangements in Spain, and regulation for such services has been altered several times during the past years and the economic benefits of such services vary significantly from one year to the next, affecting our production cost and results from our operations.
In addition, France, South Africa and the U.S., our energy purchase arrangements depend to a certain extent on rebates or revenues that we get for providing different services to the grid (interruptibility, load shaving, off-peak consumption, etc.). These rebates may be significant, but such arrangements with relevant grid operators and/or regulators may vary over time, which may affect our production costs and results from our operations.
Losses caused by disruptions in the supply of power would reduce our profitability.
Large amounts of electricity are used to produce silicon metal, manganese and silicon-based alloys and other specialty alloys, and our operations are heavily dependent upon a reliable supply of electrical power. We may incur losses due to a temporary or prolonged interruption of the supply of electrical power to our facilities, which can be caused by unusually high demand, blackouts, equipment failure, natural disasters or other catastrophic events, including failure of the hydroelectric facilities that currently provide power under contract to our West Virginia, Québec and Argentina facilities. Additionally, on occasion, we have been instructed to suspend operations for several hours by the sole energy supplier in South Africa due to a general power shortage in the country. It is possible that this supplier may instruct us to suspend our operations for a similar or longer period in the future. Such interruptions or reductions in the supply of electrical power adversely affect production levels and may result in reduced profitability. Our insurance coverage does not cover all interruption events and may not be sufficient to cover losses incurred as a result.
In addition, investments in Argentina’s electricity generation and transmission systems have been lower than the increase in demand in recent years. If this trend is not reversed, there could be electricity supply shortages as the result of inadequate generation and transmission capacity. Given the heavy dependence on electricity of our manufacturing operations, any electricity shortages could adversely affect our financial results.
Government regulations of electricity in Argentina give priority of use of hydroelectric power to residential users and subject violators of these restrictions to significant penalties. This preference is particularly acute during Argentina’s winter months due to a lack of natural gas. We have previously successfully petitioned the government to exempt us from these restrictions given the demands of our business for continuous supply of electric power. If we are unsuccessful in our petitions or in any action we take to ensure a stable supply of electricity, our production levels may be adversely affected and our profitability reduced.
Any decrease in the availability, or increase in the cost, of raw materials or transportation could materially increase our costs.
Principal components in the production of silicon metal, silicon based alloys and manganese based alloys include coal, charcoal, graphite and carbon electrodes, manganese ore, quartzite, wood chips, steel scrap, and other metals. While we own certain sources of raw materials, we also buy raw materials on a spot or contracted basis. The availability of these raw materials and the prices at which we purchase them from third party suppliers depend on market supply and demand and may be volatile such as due to the COVID-19 pandemic or the Ukraine-Russia conflicts. Our ability to obtain these materials in a cost efficient and timely manner is dependent on certain suppliers, their labor union relationships, mining and lumbering regulations and output, pandemic, geopolitical and general local economic conditions.
Over the previous years, certain raw materials (particularly graphite electrodes, coal, manganese ore, and other electrode components) have experienced significant price increases and quick price moves in relatively short periods of time, and the recent conflict in Ukraine and resulting sanctions on Russia have led to supply limitations and interruptions. In some cases, this has been combined with certain shortage in the availability of such raw materials. While we try to anticipate
potential shortages in the supply of critical raw materials with longer term contracts and other purchasing strategies, these price swings and supply shortages may affect our cost of production or even cause interruptions in our operations, which may have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
We make extensive use of shipping by sea, rail and truck to obtain the raw materials used in our production and deliver our products to customers, depending on the geographic region and product or input. Raw materials and products often must be transported over long distances between mines and other production sites and the plants where raw materials are consumed, and between those sites and our customers. Any severe delay, interruption or other disruption in such transportation, any material damage to raw materials utilized by us or to our products while being transported, or a sharp rise in transportation prices, either relating to COVID-19, the Ukraine-Russia conflict or otherwise, could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition. In addition, because we may not be able to obtain adequate supplies of raw materials from alternative sources on terms as favorable as our current arrangements, or at all, any disruption or shortfall in the production and delivery of raw materials could result in higher raw materials costs and likewise materially adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Cost increases in raw material inputs may not be passed on to our customers, which could negatively impact our profitability.
The prices of our raw material inputs are determined by supply and demand, which may be influenced by, inter alia, economic growth and recession, changes in world politics, unstable governments in exporting nations, and inflation. The market prices of raw material inputs will thus fluctuate over time, and we may not be able to pass significant price increases on to our customers. If we do try to pass them on, we may lose sales and thereby revenue, in addition to having the higher costs. Additionally, decreases in the market prices of our products will not necessarily enable us to obtain lower prices from our suppliers.
Metallurgical manufacturing and mining are inherently dangerous activities and any accident resulting in injury or death of personnel or prolonged production shutdowns could adversely affect our business and operations.
Metallurgical manufacturing generally, and smelting in particular, is inherently dangerous and subject to risks of fire, explosion and sudden major equipment failure. Quartz and coal mining are also inherently dangerous and subject to numerous hazards, including collisions, equipment failure, accidents arising from the operation of large mining and rock transportation equipment, dust inhalation, flooding, collapse, blasting operations and operating in extreme climatic conditions. These hazards have led to accidents resulting in the serious injury and death of production personnel and prolonged production shutdowns in the past. We may experience fatal accidents or equipment malfunctions in the future, which could have a material adverse effect on our business and operations.
We are heavily dependent on our mining operations, which are subject to certain risks that are beyond our control and which could result in materially increased expenses and decreased production levels.
We mine quartz and quartzite at open pit mining operations and coal at underground and surface mining operations. We are heavily dependent on these mining operations for our quartz and coal supplies. Certain risks beyond our control could disrupt our mining operations, adversely affect production and shipments, and increase our operating costs, such as: the closure of operations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic; a major incident at a mining site that causes all or part of the operations of the mine to cease for some period of time; mining, processing and plant equipment failures and unexpected maintenance problems; disruptions in the supply of fuel, power and/or water at the mine site; adverse changes in reclamation costs; the inability to renew mining concessions upon their expiration; the expropriation of territory subject to a valid concession without sufficient compensation; and adverse weather and natural disasters, such as heavy rains or snow, flooding and other natural events affecting operations, transportation or customers.
Regulatory agencies have the authority under certain circumstances following significant health and safety violations or incidents to order a mine to be temporarily or even permanently closed. If this occurs, we may be required to incur significant legal and capital expenditures to re-open the affected mine. In addition, environmental regulations and enforcement could impose unexpected costs on our mining operations, and future regulations could increase those costs
or limit our ability to produce quartz and sell coal. A failure to obtain and renew permits necessary for our mining operations could limit our production and negatively affect our business. It is also possible that we have extracted or may in the future extract quartz from territory beyond the boundary of our mining concession or mining right, which could result in penalties or other regulatory action or liabilities.
We are subject to environmental, health and safety regulations, including laws that impose substantial costs and the risk of material liabilities.
Our operations are subject to extensive foreign, federal, national, state, provincial and local environmental, health and safety laws and regulations governing, among other things, the generation, discharge, emission, storage, handling, transportation, use, treatment and disposal of hazardous substances; land use, reclamation and remediation; waste management and pollution prevention measures; greenhouse gas emissions; and the health and safety of our employees. We are also required to obtain permits from governmental authorities for certain operations, and to comply with related laws and regulations. We may not have been and may not be at all times in full compliance with such permits and related laws and regulations. If we violate or fail to comply with these permits and related laws and regulations, we could be subject to penalties, restrictions on operations or other sanctions, obligations to install or upgrade pollution control equipment and legal claims, including for alleged personal injury or property or environmental damages. Such liability could adversely affect our reputation, business, results of operations and financial condition. In addition, in the context of an investigation, the government may impose obligations to make technology upgrades to our facilities that could result in our incurring material capital expenses. For example, in addition to notices received with respect to other plants, we have received two Notices and Findings of Violation (“NOV/FOV”) from the U.S. federal government, alleging numerous violations of the Clean Air Act relating to the Company’s Beverly, Ohio facility. Should the Company and the federal government be unable to reach a negotiated resolution of the NOV/FOVs, the U.S. government could file a formal lawsuit in U.S. federal court for injunctive relief, potentially requiring the Company to implement emission reduction measures, and for civil penalties. The statutory maximum penalty is $93,750 per day per violation, from April, 2013 to December 2021, and $109,024 per day thereafter. See “Item 8.A.—Financial Information—Consolidated Financial Statements and Other Financial Information—Legal proceedings” for additional information. The Beverly facility also is located in an area currently designated as Non-Attainment for the one hour SO2 National Ambient Air Quality Standards (“NAAQS”). The Company has worked with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to develop a plan that ensures the facility is not causing exceedances of the one-hour NAAQS standard for SO2. The plan has received the necessary approval from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”).
The metals and mining industry is generally subject to risks and hazards, including fire, explosion, toxic gas leaks, releases of other hazardous materials, rockfalls, and incidents involving mobile equipment, vehicles or machinery. These could occur by accident or by breach of operating and maintenance standards, and could result in personal injury, illness or death of employees or contractors, or in environmental damage, delays in production, monetary losses and possible legal liability.
Under certain environmental laws, we could be required to remediate or be held responsible for the costs relating to contamination at our or our antecessors’ past or present facilities and at third party waste disposal sites. We could also be held liable under these environmental laws for sending or arranging for hazardous substances to be sent to third party disposal or treatment facilities if such facilities are found to be contaminated. Under these laws we could be held liable even if we did not know of, or did not cause, such contamination, or even if we never owned or operated the contaminated disposal or treatment facility.
There are a variety of laws and regulations in place or being considered at the international, federal, regional, state and local levels of government that restrict or propose to restrict and impose costs on emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. These legislative and regulatory developments may cause us to incur material costs if we are required to reduce or offset greenhouse gas emissions, or to purchase emission credits or allowances, and may result in a material increase in our energy costs due to additional regulation of power generators. Environmental laws are complex, change frequently and are likely to become more stringent in the future. Because environmental laws and regulations are becoming more stringent and new environmental laws and regulations are continuously being enacted or proposed, such as those relating to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, the level of expenditures required for environmental matters could increase in the future. Future legislative action and regulatory initiatives could result in changes to operating permits,
additional remedial actions, material changes in operations, increased capital expenditures and operating costs, increased costs of the goods we sell, and decreased demand for our products that cannot be assessed with certainty at this time.
Therefore, our costs of complying with current and future environmental laws, and our liabilities arising from past or future releases of, or exposure to, hazardous substances may adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Compliance with existing and proposed climate change laws and regulations could adversely affect our performance.
Under current European Union legislation, all industrial sites are subject to cap and trade programs, by which every facility with carbon emissions is required to purchase in the market emission rights for volumes of emission that exceed a certain allocated level. Until 2021, the allocated level of emissions had been practically sufficient for our business so the emissions rights purchases had a limited impact on our business. From 2022, new regulations reducing the allocation of free allowances require us to make significant purchases of emissions rights in the market. Also, certain Canadian provinces have implemented cap and trade programs. As a result, our facilities in Canada may be required to purchase emission credits in the future. The requirement to purchase emissions rights in the market could result in material costs to the Company, in addition to increased compliance costs, additional operating restrictions for our business, and an increase in the cost of the products we produce, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial position, results of operations, and liquidity.
In the United States, it is likely that the current administration will place a greater emphasis on regulating greenhouse gas emissions, although no proposed regulations have been outlined to date. However, carbon taxes, clean energy standards, carbon offsets, and/or the requirement to participate in a cap-and-trade program are being explored by the administration and US Congress. Although it is impossible to predict what form such action will take, any action may result in material increased compliance costs additional operating restrictions for our business, and an increase in the cost of the products we produce, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial position, results of operations and liquidity.
In 2022 Ferroglobe is going to assess the Climate Change Risks & Opportunities and its related financial impact across our operations. The evaluation will follow the Recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).
We make a significant portion of our sales to a limited number of customers, and the loss of a portion of the sales to these customers could have a material adverse effect on our revenues and profits.
In the year ended December 31, 2021, our ten largest customers accounted for approximately 48.1% of Ferroglobe’s consolidated revenue. We expect that we will continue to derive a significant portion of our business from sales to these customers.
Some contracts with our customers do not entail commitments from the customer to purchase specified or minimum volumes of products over time. Accordingly, we face a risk of unexpected reduced demand for our products from such customers as a result of, for instance, downturns in the industries in which they operate or any other factor affecting their business, which could have a material adverse effect on our revenues and profits.
If we were to experience a significant reduction in the amount of sales we make to some or all of such customers and could not replace these sales with sales to other customers, this could have a material adverse effect on our revenues and profits.
Our business benefits from antidumping and countervailing duty orders and laws that protect our products by imposing special duties on unfairly traded imports from certain countries. If these duties or laws change, certain foreign competitors might be able to compete more effectively.
Antidumping and countervailing duty orders are designed to provide relief from imports sold at unfairly low or subsidized prices by imposing special duties on such imports. Such orders normally benefit domestic suppliers and foreign suppliers not covered by the orders. In the United States, final antidumping or countervailing duties are in effect covering silicon
metal imports from China, Russia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, and Kazakhstan. In July 2021 the International Trade Commission (ITC) voted to confirm that silicon metal imports from Malaysia had materially injured the U.S. industry. In response the U.S. Department of Commerce issued a form antidumping duty over covering all imports from Malaysia for five years. In the European Union, antidumping duties are in place covering silicon metal imports from China, ferrosilicon imports from China and Russia and calcium silicon imports from China. In Canada, antidumping and countervailing duties are in place covering silicon metal imports from China.
The current antidumping and countervailing duty orders may not remain in effect and continue to be enforced from year to year, the products and countries now covered by orders may no longer be covered, and duties may not continue to be assessed at the same rates. In the United States, rates of duty can change as a result of “administrative reviews” of antidumping and countervailing duty orders. These orders can also be revoked as a result of periodic “sunset reviews,” which determine whether the orders will continue to apply to imports from particular countries. Antidumping and countervailing duties in the European Union and Canada are also subject to periodic reviews. In the European Union and in Canada, such reviews can include interim reviews, expiry reviews and other types of proceedings that may result in changes in rates of duty or termination of the duties.
Similarly, export duties imposed by foreign governments that are currently in place may change. For example, duties on Chinese exports of types of ferroalloys produced by Ferroglobe could be reduced.
Changes in any of these factors could adversely affect our business and profitability. Finally, at times, in filing trade actions, we arguably act against the interests of our customers. Certain of our customers may not continue to do business with us as a result.
Products we manufacture may be subject to unfair import competition that may affect our profitability.
A number of the products we manufacture, including silicon metal and ferrosilicon, are globally-traded commodities that are sold primarily on the basis of price. As a result, our sales volumes and prices may be adversely affected by influxes of imports of these products that are dumped or are subsidized by foreign governments. Our silicon metal and ferrosilicon operations have been injured by such unfair import competition in the past. Applicable antidumping and countervailing duty laws and regulations may provide a remedy for unfairly traded imports in the form of special duties imposed to offset the unfairly low pricing or subsidization. However, the process for obtaining such relief is complex and uncertain. As a result, while we have sought and obtained such relief in the past, in some cases we have not been successful. Thus, there is no assurance that such relief will be obtained, and if it is not, unfair import competition could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Competitive pressure from Chinese steel, aluminum, polysilicon and silicone producers may adversely affect the business of our customers, reducing demand for our products. Our customers may relocate to China, where they may not continue purchasing from us.
China’s aluminum, polysilicon and steel producing capacity exceeds local demand and has made China an increasingly large net exporter of aluminum and steel, and the Chinese silicone manufacturing industry is growing. Chinese aluminum, polysilicon, steel and silicone producers — who are unlikely to purchase silicon metal, manganese and silicon based alloys and other specialty metals from our subsidiaries outside of China due to the ample availability of domestic Chinese production — may gain global market share at the expense of our customers. An increase in Chinese aluminum, steel, polysilicon and silicone industry market share could adversely affect the production volumes, revenue and profits of our customers, resulting in reduced purchases of our products.
Moreover, our customers might seek to relocate or refocus their operations to China or other countries with lower labor costs and higher growth rates. Any that do so might thereafter choose to purchase from other suppliers of silicon metal, manganese- and silicon-based alloys and other specialty metals which in turn could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
We are subject to the risk of union disputes and work stoppages at our facilities, which could have a material adverse effect on our business.
A majority of our employees are members of labor unions. We experience protracted negotiations with labor unions, strikes, work stoppages or other industrial actions from time to time. Strikes called by employees or unions have in the past and could in the future materially disrupt our operations, including productions schedules and delivery times. We have experienced strikes by our employees at several of our facilities from time to time and a certain number of these strikes have been protracted and have resulted in protracted amounts of business. Any such work stoppage could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
New labor contracts have to be negotiated to replace expiring contracts from time to time. It is possible that future collective bargaining agreements will contain terms less favorable than the current agreements. Any failure to negotiate renewals of labor contracts on terms acceptable to us, with or without work stoppages, could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Many of our key customers or suppliers are similarly subject to union disputes and work stoppages, which may reduce their demand for our products or interrupt the supply of critical raw materials and impede their ability to fulfil their commitments under existing contracts, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
We are dependent on key personnel.
Our success depends in part upon the retention of key employees. Competition for qualified personnel can be intense. Current and prospective employees may experience uncertainty about our business or industry, which may impair our ability to attract, retain and motivate key management, sales, technical and other personnel.
If key employees depart our overall business may be harmed. We also may have to incur significant costs in identifying, hiring and retaining replacements for departing employees, may lose significant expertise and talent relating to our business and our ability to further realize the anticipated benefits of the Business Combination may be adversely affected. In addition, the departure of key employees could cause disruption or distractions for management and other personnel. Furthermore, we cannot be certain that we will be able to attract and retain replacements of a similar caliber as departing key employees.
The long term success of our operations depends to a significant degree on the continued employment of our core senior management team. In particular, we are dependent on the skills, knowledge and experience of Javier López Madrid, our Executive Chairman, Marco Levi, our Chief Executive Officer, and Beatriz García-Cos, our Chief Financial Officer. If these employees are unable to continue in their respective roles, or if we are unable to attract and retain other skilled employees, our business, results of operations and financial condition could be adversely affected. We currently have employment agreements with Mr. López Madrid, Dr. Levi and Ms. García-Cos. These agreements contain certain non-compete provisions, which may not be fully enforceable by us. Additionally, we are substantially dependent upon key personnel among our legal, financial and information technology staff, who enable us to meet our regulatory, contractual and financial reporting obligations, including reporting requirements under our credit facilities.
Shortages of skilled labor could adversely affect our operations.
We depend on skilled labor for the operation of our submerged arc furnaces and other facilities. Some of our facilities are located in areas where demand for skilled personnel often exceeds supply. Shortages of skilled furnace technicians and other skilled workers, including as a result of deaths, work stoppages or quarantines resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, could restrict our ability to maintain or increase production rates, lead to production inefficiencies and increase our labor costs.
In certain circumstances, the members of our Board may have interests that may conflict with yours as a holder of ordinary shares.
Our directors have no duty to us with respect to any information such directors may obtain (i) otherwise than as our directors and (ii) in respect of which directors owe a duty of confidentiality to another person, provided that where a director’s relationship with such other person gives rise to a conflict, such conflict has been authorized by our Board in accordance with our articles of association (“Articles”). Our Articles provide that a director shall not be in breach of the general duties directors owe to us pursuant to the UK Companies Act 2006 because such director:
|●||fails to disclose any such information to our Board, directors or officers; or|
|●||fails to use or apply any such information in performing such director’s duties as a director.|
In such circumstances, certain interests of the members of our Board may not be aligned with your interests as a holder of ordinary shares and the members of our Board may engage in certain business and other transactions without any accountability or obligation to us.
We may not realize the cost savings and other benefits that we expect to achieve from the strategic plan.
We are constantly looking for opportunities to improve our operations through changes in processes, technology, information systems, and management of best practices. These initiatives are complex and require skilled management and the support of our workforce to implement them.
In our efforts to improve our business fully and successfully, we may encounter material unanticipated problems, expenses, liabilities, competitive responses, loss of client relationships, and a resulting diversion of management’s attention. The challenges include, among others:
|●||managing change throughout the company;|
|●||coordinating geographically separate organizations;|
|●||potential diversion of management focus and resources from ordinary operational matters and future strategic opportunities;|
|●||retaining existing customers and attracting new customers;|
|●||maintaining employee morale and retaining key management and other employees;|
|●||integrating two unique business cultures that are not necessarily compatible;|
|●||issues in achieving anticipated operating efficiencies, business opportunities and growth prospects;|
|●||consolidating corporate and administrative infrastructures and eliminating duplicative operations;|
|●||issues in integrating information technology, communications and other systems;|
|●||changes in applicable laws and regulations;|
|●||changes in tax laws (including under applicable tax treaties) and regulations or to the interpretation of such tax laws or regulations by the governmental authorities; and|
|●||managing tax costs or inefficiencies associated with integrating our operations.|
Many of these factors are outside of our control and any one of them could result in increased costs, decreased revenues and diversion of management’s time and energy, which could materially impact our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Any failure to integrate recently acquired businesses successfully or to complete future acquisitions successfully could be disruptive of our business and limit our future growth.
From time to time, we expect to pursue acquisitions in support of our strategic goals. In connection with any such acquisition, we could face significant challenges in managing and integrating our expanded or combined operations, including acquired assets, operations and personnel. For example, we have faced challenges in integrating Globe and Ferroatlantica following the merger in 2015, and more recently with the acquisitions of the Mo i Rana and Dunkirk plants, and have struggled to efficiently integrate the businesses and fully realize anticipated synergies. There can be no assurance that acquisition opportunities will be available on acceptable terms or at all or that we will be able to obtain necessary financing or regulatory approvals to complete potential acquisitions. Our ability to succeed in implementing our strategy will depend to some degree upon the ability of our management to identify, complete and successfully integrate commercially viable acquisitions. Acquisition transactions may disrupt our ongoing business and distract management from other responsibilities.
Grupo VM, our principal shareholder, has significant voting power with respect to corporate matters considered by our shareholders.
Our principal shareholder, Grupo VM, owns shares representing approximately 48.6% of the aggregate voting power of our capital stock. By virtue of Grupo VM’s voting power, as well as Grupo VM’s representation on the Board, Grupo VM will have significant influence over the outcome of any corporate transaction or other matters submitted to our shareholders for approval. Grupo VM will be able to block any such matter, including ordinary resolutions, which, under English law, require approval by a majority of outstanding shares cast in the vote. Grupo VM will also be able to block special resolutions, which, under English law, require approval by the holders of at least 75% of the outstanding shares entitled to vote and voting on the resolution, such as an amendment of the Articles or the exclusion of preemptive rights. Our principal shareholder has, and will continue to have, directly or indirectly, the power, among other things, to affect our legal and capital structure and our day-to-day operations, as well as the ability to elect and change our management and to approve other changes to our operations.
Grupo VM has pledged most of its shares in our company to secure a loan from Tyrus Capital.
Grupo VM has guaranteed its obligations pursuant to a credit agreement (the “GVM Credit Agreement”) with respect to a loan granted to GVM by Tyrus Capital (“GVM Loan”). In addition, Grupo VM has entered into a security and pledge agreement (the “GVM Pledge Agreement”), with Tyrus pursuant to which Grupo VM agreed to pledge most of its shares to Tyrus to secure the outstanding GVM Loan.
In the event Grupo VM defaults under the GVM Credit Agreement, Tyrus may foreclose on the shares subject to the pledge. The Reinstated Notes and the Super Senior Notes contain change of control definitions with significant exceptions compared with that contained in the indenture for the Old Notes. Under the revised change of control definitions, no change of control shall occur or be deemed to occur by reason of, among other matters, any enforcement or exercise of
remedies under the GVM Pledge Agreement or any disposal by Grupo VM of the Grupo VM shares for the purpose of repaying Grupo VM’s debt to Tyrus, provided that certain other conditions, as described below, are met.
A change of control will occur upon the acquisition of 35% or more of the total voting power of our shares by persons other than certain permitted holders including Grupo VM and such permitted holders “beneficially own” directly or indirectly in the aggregate the same or a lesser percentage of the total voting power of our shares than such other “person” or “group” of related persons. However, the Reinstated Notes Indenture states that no change of control shall occur or be deemed to occur by reason of:
|●||any enforcement of rights or exercise of remedies under the GVM Share Pledge, including any sale, transfer or other disposal or disposition of the shares in Ferroglobe in connection therewith;|
|●||any disposal by Grupo VM of its shares in Ferroglobe where the purpose of that transaction is to facilitate the repayment or discharge (in full or in part) of the GVM Loan and the proceeds of sale are promptly applied towards such repayment or discharge; or|
|●||any mandatory offer (or analogous offer) required under the City Code on Takeovers and Mergers or any analogous regulation applied in any jurisdiction as a consequence of a transaction under limbs (1) or (2) above.|
Provided that, if any transaction under paragraphs (1) to (3) above occurs which, but for such paragraph(s), would be a “Change of Control” as a consequence of any person or persons (other than Tyrus) (x) acquiring any voting stock of Ferroglobe PLC (or any other successor company) or (y) being or becoming the “beneficial owner” of the voting power of any voting stock of Ferroglobe PLC (or any other successor company) (such person(s), the “Controlling Shareholder”):
|●||the Controlling Shareholder has within 60 days of that transaction and at its election:|
|o||paid to the Holders, on a pro rata basis, a fee in an aggregate amount equal to the product of(i) the aggregate principal amount outstanding of the Notes, (ii) 0.02 and (iii) the number of years (or part-thereof, with any part of a year calculated on the basis of the number of days divided by 360) from the payment date of such fee to June 30, 2025; or|
|o||made an offer to all Holders to purchase one-third of the Notes on a pro rata basis at a price equal to (A) in the first fifteen months after the Issue Date, 100% of the principal amount of such Notes plus accrued and unpaid interest or (B) at any time after the first fifteen months following the Issue Date, 101% of the principal amount of such Notes plus accrued and unpaid interest; or|
|●||either or both of the Issuers within 60 days of that transaction has made an offer to all Holders to repurchase or purchase (as applicable), or has otherwise redeemed, one-third of the Notes on a pro rata basis at a price equal to (A) in the first fifteen months after the Issue Date,100% of the principal amount of such Notes plus accrued and unpaid interest or (B) at anytime after the fifteen months following the Issue Date, 101% of the principal amount of such Notes plus accrued and unpaid interest, resulting in such repurchased, purchased or redeemed Notes being cancelled, and provided further that the Controlling Shareholder is not a Restricted Person.|
“GVM Loan” means any financing provided by Tyrus to Grupo VM or owing by Grupo VM to Tyrus, from time to time.
“GVM Share Pledge” means any share pledge or charge or other similar security over the shares in Ferroglobe PLC held by Grupo VM granted by Grupo VM in support of or as collateral for its obligations under any Grupo VM Loan from time to time.
“Restricted Person” means any person that: (a) is listed on the United States Specifically Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List; the European Union Consolidated List of Persons, Groups and Entities subject to EU Financial Sanctions; or the United Kingdom Consolidated List of Financial Sanctions Targets (each a “Sanctions List”); (b) is owned or controlled by a person identified on a Sanctions List, to the extent that such ownership or control results in such person being subject to the same restrictions as if such person were themselves identified on the corresponding Sanctions List; (c) is located in or incorporated under the laws of a country or territory that is the target of comprehensive sanctions imposed by the United States, which for the purposes of this Agreement, as at the date of signature of this Agreement by the last of its signatories are Iran, Syria, Cuba, the Crimea Region, and North Korea; (d) has, within the last five years, been prosecuted by a relevant authority in the United States, the United Kingdom or any member state of the European Union, in relation to a breach of securities laws (in so far as such prosecution relates to insider dealing, unlawful disclosure, market manipulation or prospectus liability) or criminal laws relating to fraud or anti-corruption, save for instances where the prosecution has concluded and did not result in any criminal or civil settlement or penalty being imposed in relation to such breaches; or (e) is a Subsidiary of a person described in (d) above.
If upon a change of control, we do not have sufficient funds available to repurchase the notes with our available cash, third party financing would be needed, yet may be impermissible under our other debt agreements. In addition, certain other contracts we are party to from time to time may contain change of control provisions. Upon a change in control, such provisions may be triggered, which could cause our contracts to be terminated or give rise to other obligations, each of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
We engage in related party transactions with affiliates of Grupo VM, our principal shareholder.
Conflicts of interest may arise between our principal shareholder and your interests as a shareholder. Our principal shareholder has, and will continue to have, directly or indirectly, the power, among other things, to affect our day-to-day operations, including the pursuit of related party transactions. We have entered, and may in the future enter, into agreements with companies who are affiliates of Grupo VM, our principal shareholder. Such agreements have been approved by, or would be subject to the approval of, the Board or the Audit Committee, as its delegate. The terms of such agreements may present material risks to our business and results of operations. For example, we have entered into a number of agreements with affiliates of Grupo VM with respect to, among other things, the provision of information technology and data processing services and energy-related services. See “Item 7.B.—Major Shareholders and Related Party Transactions—Related Party Transactions.”
We are exposed to significant risks in relation to compliance with anti-bribery and corruption laws, anti-money laundering laws and regulations, and economic sanctions programs.
Doing business on a worldwide basis requires us to comply with the laws and regulations of various jurisdictions. In particular, our international operations are subject to anti-corruption laws, most notably the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 (“FCPA”) and the UK Bribery Act of 2010 (the “Bribery Act”), international trade sanctions programs, most notably those administered by the U.N., U.S. and European Union, anti-money laundering laws and regulations, and laws against human trafficking and slavery, most notably the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015 (“Modern Slavery Act”).
The FCPA and Bribery Act prohibit offering or providing anything of value to foreign officials for the purposes of obtaining or retaining business or securing any improper business advantage. We may deal from time to time with both governments and state-owned business enterprises, the employees of which are considered foreign officials for purposes of these laws. International trade sanctions programs restrict our business dealings with or relating to certain sanctioned countries and certain sanctioned entities and persons no matter where located.
As a result of doing business internationally, we are exposed to a risk of violating applicable anti-bribery and corruption (“ABC”) laws, international trade sanctions, and anti-money laundering (“AML”) laws and regulations. Some of our operations are located in developing countries that lack well-functioning legal systems and have high levels of corruption. Our worldwide operations and any expansion, including in developing countries, our development of joint venture relationships worldwide, and the engagement of local agents in the countries in which we operate tend to increase the risk of violations of such laws and regulations. Violations of ABC laws, AML laws and regulations, and trade sanctions are
punishable by civil penalties, including fines, denial of export privileges, injunctions, asset seizures, debarment from government contracts (and termination of existing contracts) and revocations or restrictions of licenses, as well as criminal penalties including possible imprisonment. Moreover, any major violations could have a significant impact on our reputation and consequently on our ability to win future business.
For its part, the Modern Slavery Act requires any commercial organization that carries on a business or part of a business in the United Kingdom which (i) supplies goods or services and (ii) has an annual global turnover of £36 million to prepare a slavery and human trafficking statement for each financial year ending on or after March 31, 2016. In this statement, the commercial organization must set out the steps it has taken to ensure there is no modern slavery in its own business and its supply chain, or provide an appropriate negative statement. The UK Secretary of State may enforce this duty by means of civil proceedings. The nature of our operations and the regions in which we operate may make it difficult or impossible for us to detect all incidents of modern slavery in certain of our supply chains. Any failure in this regard would not violate the Modern Slavery Act per se, but could have a significant impact on our reputation and consequently on our ability to win future business.
We seek to build and continuously improve our systems of internal controls and to remedy any weaknesses identified. As part of our efforts to comply with all applicable law and regulation, we have introduced a global ethics and compliance program. We believe we are devoting appropriate time and resources to its implementation, related training, and to monitoring compliance. Despite these efforts, we cannot be certain that our policies and procedures will be followed at all times or that we will prevent or timely detect violations of applicable laws, regulations or policies by our personnel, partners or suppliers. Any actual or alleged failure to comply with applicable laws or regulations could lead to material liabilities not covered by insurance or other significant losses, which in turn could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, and financial condition.
We operate in a highly competitive industry.
The silicon metal market and the silicon-based and manganese-based alloys markets are global, capital intensive and highly competitive. Our competitors may have greater financial resources, as well as other strategic advantages, to maintain, improve and possibly expand their facilities, and, as a result, they may be better positioned than we are to adapt to changes in the industry or the global economy. Advantages that our competitors have over us from time to time, new entrants that increase competition in our industry, and increases in the use of substitutes for certain of our products could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Though we are not currently operating at full capacity, we have historically operated at near the maximum capacity of our operating facilities. Because the cost of increasing capacity may be prohibitively expensive, we may have difficulty increasing our production and profits.
Our facilities are able to manufacture, collectively, approximately 296,000 tons of silicon metal (including Dow’s portion of the capacity of our Alloy, West Virginia and Bécancour, Québec plants and excluding currently idled plants), 343,000 tons of silicon-based alloys and 562,000 tons of manganese-based alloys on an annual basis. Our ability to increase production and revenues will depend on expanding existing facilities, acquiring facilities or building new ones. Increasing capacity is difficult because:
|●||adding 30,000 tons of new production capacity to an existing silicon manufacturing plant would cost approximately $120 million and take at least 12 to 18 months to complete once permits are obtained;|
|●||a greenfield development project would take at least three to five years to complete and would require significant capital expenditure and, regulatory compliance costs; and|
|●||obtaining sufficient and dependable electric power at competitive rates in areas near the required natural resources is extremely difficult.|
We may not have sufficient funds to expand existing facilities, acquire new facilities, or open new ones and may be required to incur significant debt to do so, which could have a material adverse effect on our business and financial condition.
We are subject to restrictive covenants under our credit facilities and other financing agreements. These covenants could significantly affect the way in which we conduct our business. Our failure to comply with these covenants could lead to an acceleration of our debt.
We have in the past breached certain financial covenants under our credit facilities, including financial maintenance covenants for the three months ended September 30 and December 31, 2016 under our then existing revolving credit facility. Our ability to comply with applicable debt covenants may be affected by events beyond our control, potentially leading to future breaches. The breach of any of the covenants contained in our credit facilities, unless waived, would constitute an event of default, in turn permitting the lenders to terminate their commitments to extend credit under, and accelerate the maturity of, the credit facilities in question. If in such circumstances we were unable to repay lenders and holders, or obtain waivers from them on acceptable terms or at all, the lenders and holders could foreclose upon the collateral securing the credit facilities and exercise other rights. Such events, should they occur, could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition. See “—Risks Related to Our Capital Structure—We are subject to restrictive covenants under our financing agreements, which could impair our ability to run our business” below.
Our insurance costs may increase materially, and insurance coverages may not be adequate to protect us against all risks and potential losses to which we may be subject.
We maintain various forms of insurance covering a number of specified and consequential risks and losses arising from insured events under the policies, including securities claims, certain business interruptions and claims for damage and loss caused by certain natural disasters, such as earthquakes, floods and windstorms. Our existing property and liability insurance coverage contains various exclusions and limitations on coverage. In some previous insurance policy renewals, we have acceded to larger premiums, self-insured retentions and deductibles. For example, as a result of the explosion at our facility in Chateau Feuillet, France, the applicable property insurance premium increased. We may also be subject to additional exclusions and limitations on coverage in future insurance policy renewals. There can be no assurance that the insurance policies we have in place are or will be sufficient to cover all potential losses we may incur. In addition, due to changes in our circumstances and in the global insurance market, insurance coverage may not continue to be available to us on terms we consider commercially reasonable or be sufficient to cover multiple large claims.
We have operations and assets in the United States, Spain, France, Canada, China, South Africa, Norway, Venezuela, Argentina and may have operations and assets in other countries in the future. Our international operations and assets may be subject to various economic, social and governmental risks.
Our international operations and sales may expose us to risks that are more significant in developing markets than in developed markets and which could negatively impact future revenue and profitability. Operations in developing countries may not operate or develop in the same way or at the same rate as might be expected in a country with an economy, government and legal system similar to western countries. The additional risks that we may be exposed to in such cases include, but are not limited to:
|●||tariffs and trade barriers;|
|●||sanctions and other restrictions in our ability to conduct business with certain countries, companies or individuals;|
|●||recessionary trends, inflation or instability of financial markets;|
|●||regulations related to customs and import/export matters;|
|●||tax issues, such as tax law changes, changes in tax treaties and variations in tax laws;|
|●||absence of a reliable legal or court system;|
|●||changes in regulations that affect our business, such as new or more stringent environmental requirements or sudden and unexpected raises in power rates;|
|●||limited access to qualified staff;|
|●||cultural and language differences;|
|●||inadequate banking systems;|
|●||restrictions on the repatriation of profits or payment of dividends;|
|●||crime, strikes, riots, civil disturbances, terrorist attacks or wars;|
|●||nationalization or expropriation of property;|
|●||less access to urgent medical care for employees and key personnel in the case of severe illness;|
|●||law enforcement authorities and courts that are weak or inexperienced in commercial matters; and|
|●||deterioration of political relations among countries.|
In addition to the foregoing, exchange controls and restrictions on transfers abroad and capital inflow restrictions have limited, and can be expected to continue to limit, the availability of international credit.
The critical social, political and economic conditions in Venezuela have adversely affected, and may continue to adversely affect, our results of operations.
Among other policies in recent years, the Venezuelan government has continuously devalued the Bolívar. The resulting inflation has devastated the country, which is experiencing all manner of shortages of basic materials and other goods and difficulties in importing raw materials. In 2016, we idled our Venezuelan operations and sought to determine the recoverable value of the long lived assets there. We concluded that the costs to dispose of the facility exceeded the fair value of the assets, primarily due to political and financial instability in Venezuela. Accordingly, we wrote down the full value of our Venezuelan facilities. However, our inability to generate cash in that market may cause us to default on some of our obligations there in the future, which may result in administrative intervention or other consequences. In addition, in the recent past the Venezuelan government has threatened to nationalize certain businesses and industries, which could result in a loss of our Venezuelan facilities for no consideration. If the social, political and economic conditions in Venezuela continue as they are, or worsen, our business, results of operations and financial condition could be adversely affected. Venezuela net assets value as of December 31, 2021 $708 thousand ($1,443 thousand as of December 31, 2020). Revenues during 2021 $11 thousand ($38 thousand during 2020).
We are exposed to foreign currency exchange risk and our business and results of operations may be negatively affected by the fluctuation of different currencies.
We transact business in numerous countries around the world and a significant portion of our business entails cross border purchasing and sales. Our sales made in a particular currency do not exactly match the amount of our purchases in such currency. We prepare our consolidated financial statements in U.S. Dollars, while the financial statements of each of our subsidiaries are prepared in the entities functional currency. Accordingly, our revenues and earnings are continuously affected by fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates. For example, our sales made in U.S. Dollars exceed the amount of our purchases made in U.S. Dollars, such that the appreciation of certain currencies (like the Euro or the South African
Rand) against the U.S. Dollar would tend to have an adverse effect on our costs. Such adverse movements in relevant exchange rates could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
We depend on a limited number of suppliers for certain key raw materials. The loss of one of these suppliers or the failure of one of any of them to meet contractual obligations to us could have a material adverse effect on our business.
Colombia and the United States are among the preferred sources for the coal consumed in the production of silicon metal and silicon-based alloys, and the vast majority of producers source coal from these two countries. In the year ended December 31, 2021, 62% of our coal came from a single mine in Colombia while the remaining 38% came from the United States, other Colombian mines, as well as from Kazakhstan and South Africa. Additionally, nearly all of the manganese ore we purchase comes from suppliers located in South Africa and Gabon. We do not control these third party suppliers and must rely on them to perform in accordance with the terms of their contracts. If these suppliers fail to provide us with the required raw materials in a timely manner, or at all, or if the quantity or quality of the materials they provide is lower than that contractually agreed, we may not be able to procure adequate supplies of raw materials from alternative sources on comparable terms, or at all, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition. In addition, since many suppliers of these raw materials are located in the same region, if a natural disaster or event affected one of these regions it is likely alternative sources would also be similarly affected.
We are impacted by the ongoing military conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Our business may be materially adversely affected by any negative impact on the global economy and capital markets resulting from the conflict in Ukraine or any other geopolitical tensions.
Global markets are experiencing volatility and disruption following the escalation of geopolitical tensions and the start of the military conflict between Russia and Ukraine. On February 24, 2022, a full-scale military invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops was reported. Although the length and impact of the ongoing military conflict is highly unpredictable, the conflict in Ukraine could lead to market disruptions, including significant volatility in commodity prices, credit and capital markets, as well as supply chain interruptions.
Russia and Ukraine are meaningful producers of silicon metal, ferroalloys and manganese based alloys, and are also significant suppliers of raw materials for our business and industry. The inability of Russian and Ukrainian producers to meet their customer obligations could potentially create tightness in the market. Likewise, we rely on a number of inputs from Russia and the CIS region, including metallurgical coke, anthracite and carbon and graphite electrodes. Our inability to procure these material can adversely impact our operations.
Additionally, Russia’s prior annexation of Crimea, recent recognition of two separatist republics in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine and subsequent military interventions in Ukraine have led to sanctions and other penalties being levied by the United States, European Union and other countries against Russia, Belarus, the Crimea Region of Ukraine, the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic, and the so-called Luhansk People’s Republic, including agreement to remove certain Russian financial institutions from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (“SWIFT”) payment system, expansive ban on imports and exports of products to and from Russia and ban on exportation of U.S denominated banknotes to Russia or persons located there. Additional potential sanctions and penalties have also been proposed and/or threatened. Russian military actions and the resulting sanctions could adversely affect the global economy and financial markets and lead to instability and lack of liquidity in capital markets, potentially making it more difficult for us to obtain additional funds. The extent and duration of the military action, sanctions and resulting market disruptions are impossible to predict, but could be substantial.
Management continually tracks developments in the nascent conflict in Ukraine and is committed to actively managing our response to potential distributions to the business, but can provide no assurance that the conflict in Ukraine or other ongoing headwinds will not have a material adverse effect on our business, operations and financial results.
Planned investments in the expansion and improvement of existing facilities and in the construction of new facilities may not be successful.
We may engage in significant capital improvements to our existing facilities to upgrade and add capacity to those facilities. We also may engage in the development and construction of new facilities. Should any such efforts not be completed in a timely manner and within budget, or be unsuccessful otherwise, we may incur additional costs or impairments which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Any delay or failure to procure, renew or maintain necessary governmental permits, including environmental permits and concessions to operate our hydropower plants would adversely affect our results of operations.
The operation of our hydropower plants is highly regulated, requires various governmental permits, including environmental permits and concessions, and may be subject to the imposition of conditions by government authorities. We cannot predict whether the conditions prescribed in such permits and concessions will be achievable. The denial of a permit essential to a hydropower plant or the imposition of impractical conditions would impair our ability to operate the plant. If we fail to satisfy the conditions or comply with the restrictions imposed by governmental permits or concessions, or restrictions imposed by other applicable statutory or regulatory requirements, we may face enforcement action and be subject to fines, penalties or additional costs or revocation of such permits or concessions. Any failure to procure, renew or abide by necessary permits and concessions would adversely affect the operation of our hydropower plants.
Equipment failures may lead to production curtailments or shutdowns and repairing any failure could require us to incur capital expenditures and other costs.
Many of our business activities are characterized by substantial investments in complex production facilities and manufacturing equipment. Because of the complex nature of our production facilities, any interruption in manufacturing resulting from fire, explosion, industrial accidents, natural disaster, equipment failures or otherwise could cause significant losses in operational capacity and could materially and adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Our hydropower generation assets and other equipment may not continue to perform as they have in the past or as they are expected. A major equipment failure due to wear and tear, latent defect, design error or operator error, early obsolescence, natural disaster or other force majeure event could cause significant losses in operational capacity. Repairs following such failures could require us to incur capital expenditures and other costs. Such major failures also could result in damage to the environment or damages and harm to third parties or the public, which could expose us to significant liability. Such costs and liabilities could adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.
We depend on proprietary manufacturing processes and software. These processes may not yield the cost savings that we anticipate and our proprietary technology may be challenged.
We rely on proprietary technologies and technical capabilities in order to compete effectively and produce high quality silicon metal and silicon-based alloys, including:
|●||computerized technology that monitors and controls production furnaces;|
|●||electrode technology and operational know-how;|
|●||metallurgical processes for the production of solar-grade silicon metal;|
|●||production software that monitors the introduction of additives to alloys, allowing the precise formulation of the chemical composition of products; and|
|●||flowcaster equipment, which maintains certain characteristics of silicon-based alloys as they are cast.|
We are subject to a risk that:
|●||we may not have sufficient funds to develop new technology and to implement effectively our technologies as competitors improve their processes;|
|●||if implemented, our technologies may not work as planned; and|
|●||our proprietary technologies may be challenged and we may not be able to protect our rights to these technologies.|
Patent or other intellectual property infringement claims may be asserted against us by a competitor or others. Our intellectual property rights may not be enforceable and may not enable us to prevent others from developing and marketing competitive products or methods. An infringement action against us may require the diversion of substantial funds from our operations and may require management to expend efforts that might otherwise be devoted to operations. A successful challenge to the validity of any of our patents may subject us to a significant award of damages, and may oblige us to secure licenses of others’ intellectual property, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
We also rely on trade secrets, know-how and continuing technological advancement to maintain our competitive position. We may not be able to effectively protect our rights to unpatented trade secrets and know-how.
Ferroglobe PLC is a holding company whose principal source of revenue is the income received from its subsidiaries.
Ferroglobe PLC is dependent on the income generated by its subsidiaries in order to earn distributable profits and pay dividends to shareholders. The amounts of distributions and dividends, if any, to be paid to us by any operating subsidiary will depend on many factors, including such subsidiary’s results of operations and financial condition, limits on dividends under applicable law, its constitutional documents, documents governing any indebtedness, applicability of tax treaties and other factors which may be outside our control. If our operating subsidiaries do not generate sufficient cash flow, we may be unable to earn distributable profits and pay dividends on our shares.
Our business operations may be impacted by various types of claims, lawsuits, and other contingent obligations.
We are involved in various legal and regulatory proceedings including those that arise in the ordinary course of our business. We estimate such potential claims and contingent liabilities and, where appropriate, record provisions to address these contingent liabilities. The ultimate outcome of the legal matters currently pending against our Company is uncertain, and although such claims, lawsuits and other legal matters are not expected individually to have a material adverse effect, such matters in the aggregate could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition. Furthermore, we could, in the future, be subject to judgments or enter into settlements of lawsuits and claims that could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations in any particular period. While we maintain insurance coverage in respect of certain risks and liabilities, we may not be able to obtain such insurance on acceptable terms in the future, if at all, and any such insurance may not provide adequate coverage against such claims. See “Item 8.A.—Financial Information—Consolidated Statements and Other Financial Information—Legal proceedings” for additional information regarding legal proceedings to which we are party.
We are exposed to changes in economic and political conditions where we operate and globally that are beyond our control.
Our industry is affected by changing economic conditions, including changes in national, regional and local unemployment levels, changes in national, regional and local economic development plans and budgets, shifts in business investment and consumer spending patterns, credit availability, and business and consumer confidence. Disruptions in national economies and volatility in the financial markets may and often will reduce consumer confidence, negatively affecting business investment and consumer spending. The outlook for the global economy in the near to medium term is negative due to several factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic, geopolitical risks and concerns about global growth and stability.
Following the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, we may face risks associated with the current uncertainty and the consequences that may result from such exit, in particular with respect to tax, customs and duty laws and regulations, volatility in exchange rates and interest rates and our ability to sell and transport products from manufacturing facilities on the continent to our customers in the United Kingdom.
We are not able to predict the timing or duration of periods economic growth in the countries where we operate or sell products, nor are we able to predict the timing or duration of any economic downturn or recession that may occur in the future.
Cybersecurity breaches and threats could disrupt our business operations and result in the loss of critical and confidential information.
We rely on the effective functioning and availability of our information technology and communication systems and the security of such systems for the secure processing, storage and transmission of confidential information. The sophistication and magnitude of cybersecurity incidents are increasing and include, among other things, unauthorized access, computer viruses, deceptive communications and malware. We have experienced minor incidents in the past, and information technology security processes may not effectively detect or prevent cybersecurity breaches or threats and the measures we have taken to protect against such incidents may not be sufficient to anticipate or prevent rapidly evolving types of cyber-attacks. Breaches of the security of our information technology and communication systems could result in destruction or corruption of data, the misappropriation, corruption or loss of critical or confidential information, business disruption, reputational damage, litigation and remediation costs.
Possible new tariffs and duties that might be imposed by certain governments, including the United States, the European Union and others, could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations.
In March, 2018, the United States imposed import tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum. Exemptions from these tariffs were allowed for steel from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, and South Korea, and aluminum from Argentina, Australia, Canada, and Mexico. These tariffs were expanded to apply to steel and aluminum derivatives from most countries. China, the EU, and other countries imposed retaliatory duties on products from the United States.
In January, 2022, the tariffs on steel and aluminum from the EU were replaced by “tariff-rate quotas”, which allow a certain volume of imports to enter without the additional tariffs, but impose a 25% tariff on steel imports and a 10% tariff on aluminum imports exceeding the quota amount. Similar arrangements to replace the steel and aluminum tariffs are being negotiated with Japan and the UK.
Beginning in July 2018, the United States also imposed 25 percent tariffs on a wide array of Chinese products, including products produced and consumed by Ferroglobe, and 7.5 percent on a smaller range of products. In January 2020, the United States and China entered an initial “Phase 1” agreement to resolve the trade dispute between the two countries. The agreement resulted in the suspension of Chinese retaliatory duties on certain U.S. products and the commitment by China to purchase products from the United States. It is unclear whether and, if so, when the two countries will reach a Phase 2 agreement that would resolve the dispute more broadly.
There are indications that China has not fully complied with its Phase 1 commitments. If China were found to be in noncompliance, the United States could reimpose tariffs on Chinese products that are currently suspended or increase the existing tariffs.
Any “trade war” resulting from the imposition of tariffs could have a significant adverse effect on world trade and the world economy. To date, tariffs have not affected our business to a material degree.
Our suppliers, customers, agents or business partners may be subject to or affected by export controls or trade sanctions imposed by government authorities from time to time, which may restrict our ability to conduct business with them and potentially disrupt our production or our sales.
The United States, European Union, United Nations and other authorities have variously imposed export controls and trade sanctions on certain countries, companies, individuals and products, restricting our ability to trade normally with or in them. At present, compliance with such trade regulation is not affecting our business to a material degree. However, new trade regulations may be imposed at any time that target or otherwise affect our customers, suppliers, agents or business partners or their products. In particular, trade sanctions could be imposed that restrict our ability to do business with one or more critical suppliers and require special licenses to do so. Such events could potentially disrupt our production or sales and have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
We make significant investments in the development of new technologies and new products. The success of such technologies or products is inherently uncertain and the investments made may fail to render the desired increased in profitability.
In order to improve our processes and increase the margins in our products we have constantly invested significant amounts in the development of new technologies and in the development of new value added products. However, these developments are inherently uncertain, since they may fail to render the desired results when implemented at an industrial scale.
Specifically, we have invested in the construction of a factory to produce solar-grade silicon metal through a technology developed by the Company. We believe the technology presents several advantages when compared to current solar-grade silicon production processes since the technology has proven to render the desired technological and cost results at a laboratory scale. However, the implementation of the technology at an industrial scale is challenging especially in light of current market conditions. The current market for solar-grade silicon (or polysilicon) is very volatile and has suffered from declining prices in the past few years. Further investment in this project has been temporarily suspended and the future profitability of this project is uncertain.
Risks Related to Our Capital Structure
Our leverage may make it difficult for us to service our debt and operate our business.
We have significant outstanding indebtedness and debt service requirements. Our leverage has and in the future could have important consequences, including:
|●||making it more difficult for us to satisfy our obligations to all creditors;|
|●||requiring us to dedicate a substantial portion of our cash flow from operations to payments on our indebtedness, thus reducing the availability of our cash flow to fund internal growth through working capital and capital expenditures and for other general corporate purposes;|
|●||increasing our vulnerability to a downturn in our business or economic or industry conditions;|
|●||placing us at a competitive disadvantage compared to our competitors that have less indebtedness in relation to cash flow;|
|●||limiting our flexibility in planning for or reacting to changes in our business and our industry;|
|●||restricting us from investing in growing our business, pursuing strategic acquisitions and exploiting certain business opportunities; and|
|●||limiting, among other things, our and our subsidiaries’ ability to incur additional indebtedness, including refinancing, or raise equity capital in the future and increasing the costs of such additional financings.|
Our ability to service our indebtedness will depend on our future performance, including an improvement on recent financial performance, and liquidity, which will be affected by prevailing economic conditions and financial, business, regulatory and other factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic and the military conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Many of these factors are beyond our control. We may not be able to generate enough cash flow from operations or obtain enough capital to service our indebtedness or fund our planned capital expenditures. If we cannot service our indebtedness and meet our other obligations and commitments, we might be required to refinance our indebtedness, obtain additional financing, delay planned capital expenditures or to dispose of assets to obtain funds for such purpose. We cannot assure you that any refinancing or asset dispositions could be effected on a timely basis or on satisfactory terms, if at all, or would be permitted by the terms of our outstanding debt instruments.
We have in the past experienced losses and cannot assure you that we will be profitable.
Our business has historically been subject to fluctuations in the prices of our products and the market demand for them, caused by general and regional economic cycles, raw material and energy price fluctuations, competition and other factors. Throughout 2019 and 2020 we experienced a significant decline in prevailing prices of our products, which adversely affected our results. In early 2020, the outbreak of coronavirus disease (“COVID-19”) has been and continues to be a complex and evolving situation, with governments, public institutions and other organizations imposing or recommending, and businesses and individuals implementing, at various times and to varying degrees, restrictions on various activities or other actions to combat its spread, such as restrictions and bans on travel or transportation; limitations on the size of in-person gatherings, restrictions on freight transportations, closures of, or occupancy or other operating limitations on work facilities, and quarantines and lock-downs.
As a result of this pandemic and the strict confinement and other public health measures taken around the world, the demand for our products in the second and third quarters of 2020 was reduced significantly compared with the first and fourth quarters of the year. During the fourth quarter of 2020, demand level for our products increased to levels similar to those prior to the outbreak. During 2021, demand for our products has increased even further than in the fourth quarter of 2020. However, COVID-19 has negatively impacted, and will in the future negatively impact to an extent we are unable to predict, our revenues.
As a result, in part due to this pandemic and the strict confinement and other public health measures taken around the world, our sales decreased $470.8 million, or 29.1%, from $1,615.2 million for the year ended December 31, 2019 to $1,144.4 million for the year ended December 31 2020, resulting in a loss of $249.8 million for the year ended December 31, 2020. During 2021, our sales increased $634.5 million, or 55.4%, from $1,144.4 million for the year ended December 31, 2020 to $1,778.9 million for the year ended December 31 2021, resulting in a loss of $106.4 million for the year ended December 31, 2021.
We are subject to restrictive covenants under our financing agreements, which could impair our ability to run our business.
Restrictive covenants under our financing agreements, including relating to our outstanding notes and the agreements for our SEPI financing, may restrict our ability to operate our business. Our failure to comply with these covenants, including as a result of events beyond our control, could result in an event of default that could materially and adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.
The restrictions contained in our financing agreements could affect our ability to operate our business and may limit our ability to react to market conditions or take advantage of potential business opportunities as they arise. For example, such restrictions could adversely affect our ability to finance our operations, make strategic acquisitions, investments or alliances, restructure our organization or finance our capital needs. Additionally, our ability to comply with these covenants and restrictions may be affected by events beyond our control. These include prevailing economic, financial and industry conditions. If we breach any of these covenants or restrictions, we could be in default under our financing agreements.
If there were an event of default under any of our debt instruments that is not cured or waived, the holders of the defaulted debt could terminate their commitments thereunder and declare all amounts outstanding with respect to such indebtedness due and payable immediately, which, in turn, could result in cross-defaults under our other outstanding debt instruments. Any such actions could force us into bankruptcy or liquidation.
To service our indebtedness, we require a significant amount of cash, and our ability to generate cash will depend on many factors beyond our control.
Our ability to make payments on and to refinance our indebtedness, and to fund capital expenditures, depends in part on our ability to generate cash in the future, and increased cash flow than we have generated in recent periods. Debt service requirements due to increased debt and increased interest rates will increase our cash flow requirements. This depends on the success of our business strategy and on general economic, financial, competitive, legislative, regulatory and other factors, many of which are beyond our control.
The Restructuring has increased our leverage and so we will need to significantly improve our profitability and/or cash flow in order to be able to service our indebtedness. There can be no assurance that we will generate sufficient cash flow from operations, that we will realize operating improvements on schedule or that future borrowings will be available to us in an amount sufficient to enable us to service and repay our indebtedness or to fund our other liquidity needs. Furthermore, applicable law and future contractual arrangements may impose restrictions on certain of our subsidiaries’ ability to make payments to Ferroglobe and other entities within the Group, which could impact our ability to service and pay our obligations as they mature or to fund our liquidity needs.
The Super Senior Notes mature in June 2025, the Reinstated Notes mature in December 2025 and the remaining Old Notes that were not exchanged mature in March 2022. Other debt instruments mature at various other dates. There can be no assurance that we will have the available liquidity or the ability to raise financing in order to repay these instruments at or ahead of their maturity.
If we are unable to satisfy our debt obligations, we may have to undertake alternative financing plans, such as refinancing or further restructuring our indebtedness, selling assets, reducing or delaying capital investments or seeking to raise additional capital. There can be no assurance that any refinancing or debt restructuring would be possible, or if possible, that it would be on similar terms to those of our debt instruments existing at that time, that any assets could be sold or that, if sold, the timing of the sales and the amount of proceeds realized from those sales would be favorable to us or that additional financing could be obtained on acceptable terms. As the Super Senior Notes and the Reinstated Notes will be secured by a significant portion of our assets that can be granted as collateral, our ability to refinance our existing debt or raise new debt may be limited to unsecured or lesser-secured debt. Disruptions in the capital and credit markets, as have been seen in recent years, could adversely affect our ability to meet our liquidity needs or to refinance our indebtedness.
We may not be able to repurchase the Notes upon a Change of Control.
The Reinstated Notes and the Super Senior Notes require us to offer to repurchase all or any part of each holder’s notes upon the occurrence of a change of control, as defined in the respective indentures, at a purchase price equal to 101% of the principal amount, plus accrued and unpaid interest thereon, to the date of purchase. If such an event were to occur, we may not have sufficient financial resources available to satisfy all of those obligations.
Risks Related to Our Ordinary Shares
The market price of our ordinary shares may be volatile and may decline.
Our ordinary shares are admitted for trading on the Nasdaq Capital Market under the symbol “GSM”. The market price of our ordinary shares is subject to wide fluctuations in response to numerous factors, some of which are beyond our control. These factors include, among other things, actual or anticipated variations in our costs of doing business, operating results and cash flow, the nature and content of our earnings releases and our competitors’ earnings releases, changes in financial estimates by securities analysts, business conditions in our markets and the general state of the securities markets and the
market for other financial stocks, changes in capital markets that affect the perceived availability of capital to companies in our industry, and governmental legislation or regulation, as well as general economic and market conditions, such as downturns in our economy and recessions.
In recent years, the stock market in general has experienced extreme price fluctuations that have often times been unrelated to the operating performance of the affected companies. Similarly, the market price of our ordinary shares may fluctuate significantly based upon factors unrelated or disproportionate to our operating performance.
These market fluctuations, as well as general economic, political and market conditions, such as recessions, interest rates or international currency fluctuations may adversely affect the market price of our ordinary shares.
Significant sales of our ordinary shares, or the perception that significant sales thereof may occur in the future, could adversely affect the market price for our ordinary shares.
The sale of substantial amounts of our ordinary shares could adversely affect the price of these securities. Sales of substantial amounts of our ordinary shares in the public market, and the availability of shares for future sale could adversely affect the prevailing market price of our ordinary shares and could cause the market price of our ordinary shares to remain low for a substantial amount of time.
We do not anticipate paying cash dividends in the foreseeable future.
We currently intend to retain future earnings, if any, for use in our business and, therefore, do not anticipate paying any cash dividends in the foreseeable future. The payment of future dividends, if any, will depend, among other things, on our results of operations and financial condition and on such other factors as our Board of Directors may, in their discretion, consider relevant.
If securities or industry analysts do not publish or cease publishing research reports about us, if they adversely change their recommendations regarding our ordinary shares, or if our operating results do not meet their expectations, the price of our ordinary shares could decline.
The trading market for our ordinary shares will be influenced by the research and reports that industry or securities analysts may publish about us, our business, our market or our competitors. If there is limited or no securities or industry analyst coverage of us, the market price and trading volume of our ordinary shares would likely be negatively impacted. Moreover, if any of the analysts who may cover us downgrade our ordinary shares or provide relatively more favorable recommendations concerning our competitors, or as we experienced in 2019 and 2020, if our operating results or prospects do not meet their expectations, the market price of our ordinary shares could decline. If any of the analysts who may cover us were to cease coverage or fail regularly to publish reports about our Company, we could lose visibility in the financial markets, which, in turn, could cause our share price or trading volume to decline.
As a foreign private issuer within the meaning of the rules of NASDAQ, we are subject to different U.S. securities laws and NASDAQ governance standards than domestic U.S. issuers of securities. These may afford relatively less protection to holders of our ordinary shares, who may not receive all corporate and company information and disclosures they are accustomed to receiving or in a manner to which they are accustomed.
As a foreign private issuer, the rules governing the information that we are required to disclose differ from those governing U.S. corporations pursuant to the U.S. Exchange Act. Although we intend to report periodic financial results and certain material events, we are not required to file quarterly reports on Form 10-Q or provide current reports on Form 8-K disclosing significant events within four days of their occurrence. In addition, we are exempt from the SEC’s proxy rules, and proxy statements that we distribute will not be subject to review by the SEC. Our exemption from Section 16 rules requiring the reporting of beneficial ownership and sales of shares by insiders means that you will have less data in this regard than shareholders of U.S. companies that are subject to this part of the U.S. Exchange Act and that our insiders are not subject to short-swing profit rules. As a result, in deciding whether to purchase our shares, you may not have all the data that you are accustomed to having when making investment decisions with respect to domestic U.S. public companies.
Furthermore, NASDAQ Rule 5615(a)(3) provides that a foreign private issuer, such as our Company, may rely on home country corporate governance practices in lieu of certain of the rules in the NASDAQ Rule 5600 Series and Rule 5250(d), provided that we nevertheless comply with NASDAQ’s Notification of Noncompliance requirement (Rule 5625), the Voting Rights requirement (Rule 5640) and that we have an audit committee that satisfies Rule 5605(c)(3), consisting of committee members that meet the independence requirements of Rule 5605(c)(2)(A)(ii). We are permitted to follow certain corporate governance rules that conform to U.K. requirements in lieu of many of the NASDAQ corporate governance rules, and we intend to comply with the NASDAQ corporate governance rules applicable to foreign private issuers. Accordingly, our shareholders will not have the same protections afforded to stockholders of U.S. companies that are subject to all of the corporate governance requirements of NASDAQ.
We may lose our foreign private issuer status in the future, which could result in significant additional costs and expenses.
We could cease to be a foreign private issuer if a majority of our outstanding voting securities are directly or indirectly held of record by U.S. residents and we fail to meet additional requirements necessary to avoid loss of foreign private issuer status. In that event, the regulatory and compliance costs we would incur as a domestic registrant may be significantly higher than we incur as a foreign private issuer, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, operating results and financial condition.
As an English public limited company, certain capital structure decisions require shareholder approval, which may limit our flexibility to manage our capital structure.
English law provides that a board of directors may only allot shares (or rights or convertible into shares) with the prior authorization of shareholders, such authorization being up to the aggregate nominal amount of shares and for a maximum period of five years, each as specified in the articles of association or relevant shareholder resolution. The Articles authorize the allotment of additional shares for a period of five years from October 26, 2017 (being the date of the adoption of the Articles), which authorization will need to be renewed upon expiration (i.e., at least every five years) but may be sought more frequently for additional five-year terms (or any shorter period).
English law also generally provides shareholders with preemptive rights when new shares are issued for cash. However, it is possible for the articles of association, or for shareholders acting in a general meeting, to exclude preemptive rights. Such an exclusion of preemptive rights may be for a maximum period of up to five years from the date of adoption of the articles of association, if the exclusion is contained in the articles of association, or from the date of the shareholder resolution, if the exclusion is by shareholder resolution. In either case, this exclusion would need to be renewed by our shareholders upon its expiration (i.e., at least every five years). The Articles exclude preemptive rights for a period of five years from October 26, 2017, which exclusion will need to be renewed upon expiration (i.e., at least every five years) to remain effective, but may be sought more frequently for additional five-year terms (or any shorter period).
English law also generally prohibits a public company from repurchasing its own shares without the prior approval of shareholders by ordinary resolution, such being a resolution passed by a simple majority of votes cast, and other formalities. As an English company listed on NASDAQ, we may not make on-market purchases of our shares and may make off-market purchases only for the purposes of or pursuant to an employees’ share scheme where our shareholders have approved our doing so by ordinary resolution (and with a maximum duration of such approval of five years) or with the prior consent of our shareholders by ordinary resolution to the proposed contract for the purchase of our shares.
English law requires that we meet certain financial requirements before we declare dividends or repurchases.
Under English law, we may only declare dividends, make distributions or repurchase shares out of distributable reserves of the Company or distributable profits. “Distributable profits” are a company’s accumulated, realized profits, so far as not previously utilized by distribution or capitalization, less its accumulated, realized losses, so far as not previously written off in a reduction or reorganization of capital duly made, as reported to the Companies House. In addition, as a public company, we may only make a distribution if the amount of our net assets is not less than the aggregate amount of our called-up share capital and undistributable reserves and if, and to the extent that, the distribution does not reduce the
amount of those assets to less than that aggregate amount. The Articles permit declaration of dividends by ordinary resolution of the shareholders, provided that the directors have made a recommendation as to its amount. The dividend shall not exceed the amount recommended by the directors. The directors may also decide to pay interim dividends if it appears to them that the profits available for distribution justify the payment. When recommending or declaring the payment of a dividend, the directors will be required under English law to comply with their duties, including considering our future financial requirements.
The enforcement of shareholder judgments against us or certain of our directors may be more difficult.
Because we are a public limited company incorporated under English law, and because most of our directors and executive officers are non-residents of the United States and substantially all of the assets of such directors and executive officers are located outside of the United States, our shareholders could experience more difficulty enforcing judgments obtained against our Company or our directors in U.S. courts than would currently be the case for U.S. judgments obtained against a U.S. public company or U.S. resident directors. In addition, it may be more difficult (or impossible) to assert some types of claims against our Company or its directors in courts in England, or against certain of our directors in courts in Spain, than it would be to bring similar claims against a U.S. company or its directors in a U.S. court.
The United States is not currently bound by a treaty with Spain or the United Kingdom providing for reciprocal recognition and enforcement of judgments rendered in civil and commercial matters with Spain or the United Kingdom, other than arbitral awards. There is, therefore, doubt as to the enforceability of civil liabilities based upon U.S. federal securities laws in an action to enforce a U.S. judgment in Spain or the United Kingdom. In addition, the enforcement in Spain or the United Kingdom of any judgment obtained in a U.S. court based on civil liabilities, whether or not predicated solely upon U.S. federal securities laws, will be subject to certain conditions. There is also doubt that a court in Spain or the United Kingdom would have the requisite power or authority to grant remedies in an original action brought in Spain or the United Kingdom on the basis of U.S. federal securities laws violations.
Risks Related to Tax Matters
The application of Section 7874 of the Code, including under recent IRS guidance, and changes in law could affect our status as a foreign corporation for U.S. federal income tax purposes.
We believe that, under current law, we should be treated as a foreign corporation for U.S. federal income tax purposes. However, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (the “IRS”) may assert that we should be treated as a U.S. corporation for U.S. federal income tax purposes pursuant to Section 7874 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”). Under Section 7874 of the Code, we would be treated as a U.S. corporation for U.S. federal income tax purposes if, after the Business Combination, (i) at least 80% of our ordinary shares (by vote or value) were considered to be held by former holders of common stock of Globe by reason of holding such common stock, as calculated for Section 7874 purposes, and (ii) our expanded affiliated group did not have substantial business activities in the United Kingdom (the “80% Test”). The percentage (by vote and value) of our ordinary shares considered to be held by former holders of common stock of Globe immediately after the Business Combination by reason of their holding common stock of Globe is referred to in this disclosure as the “Section 7874 Percentage.”
Determining the Section 7874 Percentage is complex and, with respect to the Business Combination, subject to legal uncertainties. In that regard, the IRS and U.S. Department of the Treasury (“U.S. Treasury”) issued temporary Regulations in April 2016 and finalized Regulations in July 2018 (collectively, the “Section 7874 Regulations”), which include a rule that applies to certain transactions in which the Section 7874 Percentage is at least 60% and the parent company is organized in a jurisdiction different from that of the foreign target corporation (the “Third Country Rule”). This rule applies to transactions occurring on or after November 19, 2015, which date is prior to the closing of the Business Combination. If the Third Country Rule were to apply to the Business Combination, the 80% Test would be deemed met and we would be treated as a U.S. corporation for U.S. federal income tax purposes. While we believe the Section 7874 Percentage is less than 60% such that the Third Country Rule does not apply to us, we cannot assure you that the IRS will agree with this position and would not successfully challenge our status as a foreign corporation. If the IRS successfully challenged
our status as a foreign corporation, significant adverse tax consequences would result for us and could apply to our shareholders.
In addition, changes to Section 7874 of the Code, the U.S. Treasury Regulations promulgated thereunder, or to other relevant tax laws (including under applicable tax treaties) could adversely affect our status or treatment as a foreign corporation, and the tax consequences to our affiliates, for U.S. federal income tax purposes, and any such changes could have prospective or retroactive application. Recent legislative proposals have aimed to expand the scope of U.S. corporate tax residence, including by potentially causing us to be treated as a U.S. corporation if the management and control of us and our affiliates were determined to be located primarily in the United States, or by reducing the Section 7874 Percentage at or above which we would be treated as a U.S. corporation such that it would be lower than the threshold imposed under the 80% Test.
IRS guidance and changes in law could affect our ability to engage in certain acquisition strategies and certain internal restructurings.
Even if we are treated as a foreign corporation for U.S. federal income tax purposes, the Section 7874 Regulations materially changed the manner in which the Section 7874 Percentage will be calculated in certain future acquisitions of U.S. businesses in exchange for our equity, which may affect the tax efficiencies that otherwise might be achieved in transactions with third parties. For example, the Section 7874 Regulations would impact certain acquisitions of U.S. companies for our Ordinary Shares (or other stock) in the 36-month period beginning December 23, 2015, by excluding from the Section 7874 Percentage the portion of Ordinary Shares that are allocable to former holders of common stock of Globe. This rule would generally have the effect of increasing the otherwise applicable Section 7874 Percentage with respect to our future acquisition of a U.S. business. The Section 7874 Regulations also may more generally limit the ability to restructure the non-U.S. members of our Company to achieve tax efficiencies, unless an exception applies. However, no such acquisition of a U.S. business was made during the 36 months period.
IRS proposed regulations and changes in laws or treaties could affect the expected financial synergies of the Business Combination.
The IRS and the U.S. Treasury also issued rules that provide that certain intercompany debt instruments issued on or after April 5, 2016, will be treated as equity for U.S. federal income tax purposes, therefore limiting U.S. tax benefits and resulting in possible U.S. withholding taxes. As a result of these rules, we may not be able to realize a portion of the financial synergies that were anticipated in connection with the Business Combination, and such rules may materially affect our future effective tax rate. While these new rules are not retroactive, they could impact our ability to engage in future restructurings if such transactions cause an existing debt instrument to be treated as reissued. Furthermore, under certain circumstances, recent treaty proposals by the U.S. Treasury, if ultimately adopted by the United States and relevant foreign jurisdictions, could reduce the potential tax benefits for us and our affiliates by imposing U.S. withholding taxes on certain payments from our U.S. affiliates to related and unrelated foreign persons.
We are subject to tax laws of numerous jurisdictions and our interpretation of those laws is subject to challenge by the relevant governmental authorities.
We and our subsidiaries are subject to tax laws and regulations in the United Kingdom, the United States, France, Spain, South Africa and the other jurisdictions in which we operate. These laws and regulations are inherently complex, and we and our subsidiaries are (and have been) obligated to make judgments and interpretations about the application of these laws and regulations to us and our subsidiaries and their operations and businesses. The interpretation and application of these laws and regulations could be challenged by the relevant governmental authority, which could result in administrative or judicial procedures, actions or sanctions, which could be material an effect our effective tax rate.