* Third issue this year by the cement company
* Funds to help pay $2.3 billion in debt in 2011
* Company says will have 98 percent of that money
* Says covers maturities until 2013
(Recasts with company statement, background)
By Robin Emmott and Gabriela Lopez
MONTERREY, Mexico, March 29 (Reuters) - Global cement maker Cemex sold $800 million in 4-year bonds on Tuesday, its third bond issue this year, and said it now had almost enough money to pay creditors and avoid a penalty.
Cemex , which has been juggling its $18 billion debt since its ambitious takeover of Australian rival Rinker in 2007, sold the senior secured floating rate bonds denominated in dollars, the company said in a statement.
The world’s No.3 cement maker sold $1 billion of bonds in January and $1.67 billion of convertible notes earlier this month, pulling together funds to repay $2.3 billion in debt this year under a deal with its creditors and to avoid a $200 million fine.
Cemex, which competes with France’s Lafarge SA and Switzerland’s Holcim AG among the world’s biggest cement makers, said it would use the funds to repay debt under its agreement with bankers in 2009 that saved it from default.
Cemex bought Rinker with short-term bank debt just as the U.S. housing crisis and ensuing global financial crisis broke, plunging the company into a deep slump from which it has yet to fully recover.
“As a result of this expected prepayment ... Cemex will have addressed all maturities under the agreement until December 2013 ... and repaid approximately 98 percent of the total amount required to be repaid by December 31, 2011,” the company said.
Analysts Reuters talked to expect the Monterrey-based company to cover the remaining funds for this year’s payment with cash.
Credit Suisse said in a note after the company’s statement was released that the news was “slightly positive,” because although the bonds would cost $5 million more a year to service than the bank debt, it was still far cheaper for Cemex than facing a penalty.
Fitch Ratings gave the four-year bonds, which will pay quarterly interest at three-month U.S. dollar Libor plus 500 basis points, a B+ rating. (Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)