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SSP Group gets backing for £216mln emergency cash call

The operator of food and drink outlets in airports and train stations expects a 40% drop in revenue for March

SSP Group plc - SSP Group defers dividend, launches placing

SSP Group plc (LON:SSPG) has raised £216mln from an emergency placing launched on Wednesday morning to cope with the immediate hit of the pandemic.

The operator of food and drink outlets in airports and train stations said it would sell up to 19.99% of its entire issued capital to raise £200mln.

READ: SSP adds name to growing list of coronavirus warnings

Its investment banks Barclays, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs and HSBC sold 86mln shares or 16% of the company at the price of 250p each, a 6.2% premium to Tuesday's closing price and a 7.7% discount to the middle market price when the sum was agreed.

It also agreed on a new bank facility of up to £112.5mln with HSBC.

In a separate announcement, the FTSE 250-listed firm warned revenues for March are expected to drop by 40-45%, hitting operating profit by £50-60mln, as the pandemic hits travel activity.

UK, Continental Europe and North America are currently seeing like-for-like (LFL) sales down 80%, while the rest of the world are down 60%.

In the first half of the financial year, ending 31 March, the restaurant and cafe owner expects LFL revenue to drop 8% and will not propose an interim dividend.

The period is estimated to end with £180-200mln of cash and undrawn committed facilities.

SSP Group announced the suspension of a £100mln share buyback and delayed the payment of the 6p final dividend, scheduled for Friday, to June.

The hospitality group has closed shops, sacked staff, reduced salaries and is negotiating rents to save money.

Shares rose 11% to 260.5p on Wednesday morning and jumped 12% to 264p after the result of the placing was announced.

--Adds shares--

--Adds update on placing--

Quick facts: SSP Group plc

Price: 264 GBX

LSE:SSPG
Market: LSE
Market Cap: £1.41 billion
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