UPDATE 3-Struggling Norwegian Air raises $272 million from share sale, bond issue

OSLO (Reuters) – Norwegian Air (NWC.OL) on Tuesday raised 2.5 billion crowns ($272.31 million) to meet the struggling airline’s cash needs through 2020 with its third share sale in two years and a bond issue. The airline said it sold 27.25 million new shares at 40 crowns per share in a private placement, a 13% discount to Tuesday’s closing price. It also raised $150 million via convertible bond issue. With mounting debts and suffering from the grounding of its 18 Boeing (BA.N) 737 MAX aircraft, Norwegian has replaced breakneck expansion with cost cutting to regain profitability. The company also announced a deal with a Chinese firm in October to offload 27 new Airbus (AIR.PA) planes to ease pressure on its finances and avoid becoming the latest airline to collapse. “The private placement received significant interest from both existing shareholders in the company and new high-quality investors. The convertible bond issue received significant interest from international and domestic investors,” it said. In a statement after the stock market closed, Europe’s third-largest budget airline by passenger numbers said the transactions would fully fund it “through 2020 and beyond based on the current business plan.” “The proceeds … will secure required financing of working capital during the winter season and create headroom to financial covenants while completing the strategic transformation of the company,” it said. The airline also reported monthly figures showing passenger traffic declined in October from a year ago, the first such fall on record as the carrier cut loss-making routes from its network. The data had been scheduled for release on Wednesday. Overall traffic, a measure of distance flown and the number of people carried (RPK), fell 3% year on year in October, the company said. Analysts in a Reuters poll on average had expected a fall of 12.1%. Norwegian’s RPK had until now risen every month since it was first listed on the Oslo Bourse in 2003, its records show. Trimming capacity at a rate of 5% year on year helped it fill aircraft, raising the so-called load factor to 87.1% from 85.0% in October 2018, in line with a Reuters poll. Its yield, or income per passenger carried and kilometre flown, rose to 0.40 crown in October from 0.38 crown a year ago, also in line with expectations.

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