Norsk Hydro ASA's alumina refinery Alunorte in Brazil will be subject to ICMS taxation on fuel oil starting February 1, following a decision by the Brazilian state of Pará to change the collection point of the ICMS tax on fuel-oil purchases.
Assuming that the decision is upheld, the estimated effect on Hydro will be an increased cost of approximately BRL 60 million (NOK 150 million) per quarter, which will be charged to Hydro's Bauxite & Alumina business area.
"We are concerned about the sudden changes in tax legislation in Pará, and we are doing what we can to try to get the decision reversed, in dialogue with Pará legislators," says Executive Vice President and head of Bauxite & Alumina Johnny Undeli.
"Hydro's ambition is to develop robust and viable operations in Pará and to be an enabler for sustainable growth for this resource-rich region. In order to pursue that ambition, we need stable and predictable framework conditions."
ICMS is a tax on goods and services, collected by Brazilian states. The aluminium industry in Pará has an ICMS deferral, which needs to be renewed by July 2015, resulting in an exemption on intra-state purchases of goods and services. However, the recent changes on fuel oil will move the collection point of ICMS from distributors to the oil refineries, which are located outside the state of Pará.
The decision is similar to one made in 2012, when Alunorte temporarily paid ICMS taxes on fuel oil for three quarters. The decision was later reversed.
In addition, Hydro and its supplier of electricity have accepted to pay ICMS taxes on the purchase of electricity by Alunorte and the Paragominas bauxite mine in the period following the closing of the Vale transaction on February 28, 2011. The settlement amounts to NOK 280 million, consisting of NOK 170 million relating to ICMS taxes on electricity purchases for the period and NOK 110 million relating to tax penalties.
The obligation to pay ICMS taxes on electricity was previously disputed by the companies, but in light of a recent unfavorable court ruling between an electricity supplier and state authorities, it was accepted to make the payment, thereby enabling the electricity supplier's participation in the Pará state tax amnesty. The amnesty gave the opportunity to settle the tax case with significantly reduced penalties.
Going forward, ICMS charges will be charged on electricity purchases at a rate of BRL 8 million (NOK 20 million) per quarter, mainly increasing the cost at Paragominas.
Penalties will be treated as items excluded in the fourth quarter 2013 results, while the ICMS charge will be included in underlying results of the same quarter.
Certain statements included within this announcement contain forward-looking information, including, without limitation, those relating to (a) forecasts, projections and estimates, (b) statements of management's plans, objectives and strategies for Hydro, such as planned expansions, investments or other projects, (c) targeted production volumes and costs, capacities or rates, start-up costs, cost reductions and profit objectives, (d) various expectations about future developments in Hydro's markets, particularly prices, supply and demand and competition, (e) results of operations, (f) margins, (g) growth rates, (h) risk management, as well as (i) statements preceded by "expected", "scheduled", "targeted", "planned", "proposed", "intended" or similar statements.
Although we believe that the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are reasonable, these forward-looking statements are based on a number of assumptions and forecasts that, by their nature, involve risk and uncertainty. Various factors could cause our actual results to differ materially from those projected in a forward-looking statement or affect the extent to which a particular projection is realized. Factors that could cause these differences include, but are not limited to: our continued ability to reposition and restructure our upstream and downstream aluminium business; changes in availability and cost of energy and raw materials; global supply and demand for aluminium and aluminium products; world economic growth, including rates of inflation and industrial production; changes in the relative value of currencies and the value of commodity contracts; trends in Hydro's key markets and competition; and legislative, regulatory and political factors.
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