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Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA tumbled the most ever after raising 3 billion kroner ($353 million) through a share sale to avoid breaching financial covenants. The company said it’s open to new takeover approaches after British IAG SA abandoned an eight-month pursuit.
The fully underwritten rights issue is required to increase financial flexibility and create headroom to covenants on outstanding bonds, the discount airline, based at Fornebu, outside Oslo, said in a statement Tuesday, sending the stock down as much as 30 percent.
Norwegian invited further bids after the termination of British Airways parent IAG’s interest led the stock to lose a fifth of its value last Thursday. The airline said it will “continue to be willing to engage in consolidation discussions that can develop shareholder value,” adding that there aren’t any further talks right now.
Chief Executive Officer Bjorn Kjos, who rejected two previous offers from IAG, has been struggling to weather a cash crunch as a European fare ware depresses revenue at a time when his company is awash with capacity after one of the fastest growth spurts in aviation history. Norwegian reiterated in it’s statement that the focus now will be more on profitability than expansion.
Shares of Norwegian Air were trading 16 percent lower as of 9:10 a.m. in Oslo. The carrier’s bonds recovered losses recorded last week after IAG pulled out. Its 250 million euro of notes due December gained 13 cents on the euro to 96 cents, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
IAG’s decision to walk away from a bid had spurred concerns about Norwegian’s finances, with analysts widely predicting that a capital increase was likely, though the rights issue is bigger than many had forecast. About 2.4 billion kroner of the total will be provided by DNB Bank, Danske Bank and billionaire shipping magnate John Fredriksen.
The company must have a book equity value higher than 1.5 billion kroner and more than 500 million kroner of liquidity to comply with bond covenants, according to a previous presentation.
Norwegian said it aims to reduce the level of spending through aircraft sales and the postponement of some plane deliveries and clawing back money from Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc as compensation for having to scrap some flights due to engine issues.
The carrier has already announced base and route cuts this year, signaling the extent of its profitability issues, something that may have deterred IAG. Deutsche Lufthansa AG also indicated at one point that it was mulling an offer.
Bidders may also be put off by a profit warning at Ryanair Holdings Plc, Europe’s biggest airline, and uncertainty about how Brexit will affect flights and market developments as the U.K., a major market for Norwegian.
Existing shareholders including Kjos and Chairman Bjorn Halvor Kise will contribute to the rights offer. Fredriksen, who last year pulled off the painful restructuring of his offshore drilling company Seadrill Ltd., is getting involved after saying he’s looking for new opportunities as he continues to diversify his wealth estimated at $7.9 billion.
©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
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