Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 6 August 2020

BA parent company considering €2.75bn rights issue

Move is intended to strengthen IAG's balance sheet but no final decision has been made

British Airways planes at Heathrow Airport in London. British Airways owner IAG is drawing up plans for a possible rights issue of up to €2.75 billion to bolster its balance sheet. Reuters. 
British Airways planes at Heathrow Airport in London. British Airways owner IAG is drawing up plans for a possible rights issue of up to €2.75 billion to bolster its balance sheet. Reuters. 

British Airways’ parent company IAG is considering a rights issue of as much as €2.75 billion (Dh11.7bn) to strengthen its balance sheet amid the coronavirus crisis that has affected airlines.

The company has yet to make a final decision on the share sale, chief financial officer Steve Gunning said in a statement to the London Stock Exchange on Friday.

A rights issue is an exercise in which a company grants shareholders the right to buy new shares, usually at a discount.

“A further announcement will be made as appropriate,” Mr Gunning said.

British Airways’ parent company IAG is considering a rights issue of as much as €2.75 billion (Dh11.7bn) to strengthen its balance sheet amid the coronavirus crisis that has affected airlines.

The company has yet to make a final decision on the share sale, chief financial officer Steve Gunning said in a statement to the London Stock Exchange on Friday.

A rights issue is an exercise in which a company grants shareholders the right to buy new shares, usually at a discount.

“A further announcement will be made as appropriate,” Mr Gunning said.

Airlines around the world are fighting for survival after the Covid-19 pandemic brought travel to a near-standstill. As passenger numbers fell this year, airlines sought government aid, restructured their business and cut costs. A recovery is expected to take years.

The Anglo-Spanish group, which also owns Aer Lingus and Iberia, did not receive state aid of the magnitude given to its rivals Deutsche Lufthansa and Air-France KLM, although it did benefit from government wage support programmes.

The markets the group depends on may be the last to recover as the pandemic hurts economies and people remain wary of long-haul travel, therefore delaying recovery in the lucrative transatlantic routes.

Meanwhile, IAG said on Friday that it had extended its global commercial partnership with credit card company American Express for an air miles deal and will receive a payment of approximately £750 million (Dh3.5bn).

The group is also cutting jobs and retiring older aircraft to reduce costs. British Airways last week retired its fleet of Boeing 747s due to the pandemic’s effect on air travel. IAG said it has a “strong balance sheet and liquidity”, pointing to cash and undrawn facilities of €10bn as of April 30.

In May, the group reported a first-quarter operating loss before exceptional items of €535m, compared to a €135m operating profit in the same period last year.

"IAG expects that its second quarter will be significantly worse than the first quarter," it said at the time.

"IAG does not expect the level of passenger demand in 2019 to recover before 2023, making further group-wide restructuring measures essential."

As a result, IAG expects to defer the delivery of 68 aircraft. The company is expected to release its second-quarter results on July 31.

IAG shares closed 4.8 per cent lower on Friday in London, extending the decline this year to 68 per cent.

Updated: July 26, 2020 01:40 AM

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