CEO Johan Lundgren wants to steal market share from the likes of British Airways and Air France-KLM as they restructure their short-haul operations, but is the money enough to give it a headstart against Ryanair?
British airline easyJet said it had rejected a takeover offer on Thursday by Wizz Air and would raise $1.7 billion from shareholders to fund its pandemic recovery and expand operations.
The company said the all-share approach fundamentally undervalued the business. It said the potential bidder had since stated that it was no longer interested in a deal.
EasyJet said it would use the rights issue to strengthen its balance sheet and also to take advantage of growth opportunities that arise from the expected recovery in Europe’s aviation market over the coming years.
It wants to steal market share from legacy carriers like British Airways-owner IAG, once a rumoured suitor of easyJet, and Air France-KLM as they restructure their short-haul operations.
CEO Johan Lundgren said the capital raise would enable the airline to accelerate its post-Covid-19 recovery plan and position it to take advantage of strategic investment opportunities, such as expanding its presence at key airports by buying more landing slots.
“This capital increase will allow us to build on our fundamental operational strengths and network strategy for our customers as well as accelerate long-term value creation for our shareholders,” he said.
Under the rights issue, shareholders will be able to buy 31 new shares for every 47 existing shares at a price of $5.66 each, a 35.8 percent discount on the theoretical ex-rights price of $8.81 per share on Sept. 8, easyJet said.
The rights issue is underwritten by BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, Santander and Societe Generale.
It also announced a new committed $400 million secured revolving credit facility.
UPDATE: Reuters updated it story to report that easyJet rejected an offer from Wizz Air, according to sources.
(Reporting by Sarah Young and Paul Sandle; Editing by Kate Holton)
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Photo credit: EasyJet will use the rights issue to strengthen its balance sheet. Henry Burrows / Flickr