Rolls-Royce Gets Investor Nod for $2.6 Billion Equity Sale

Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc shareholders backed a 2 billion-pound ($2.6 billion) equity raise, a key step toward shoring up the British engine maker’s finances to outlast the Covid-19 pandemic.

Investors voted 99.5% in favor of the rights issue, according to a statement Tuesday. Their support means Rolls-Royce can access a further 3 billion pounds of funds, through a bond sale and a 1 billion-pound term loan, both of which were conditional on the rights issue passing.

Rolls-Royce’s engine business has been dealt a heavy blow by the coronavirus, with both unit sales and maintenance revenue hurt by a mass grounding of widebody planes. The company announced a 5 billion-pound refinancing plan at the start of this month, funded through a combination of debt issuance, a rights offer and loans, and now has no pressing need to extend borrowings guaranteed by the U.K. government.

Rolls-Royce shares slipped 2.3% to 221.00 pence as of 1:27 p.m. in London, down more than two-thirds this year.

The package is aimed at seeing Rolls-Royce through to 2022, when the company expects to resume sufficient cash generation alongside a gradual recovery in demand for air travel. Chief Executive Officer Warren East has also said the company could sell assets as it repositions for the future.

Rolls-Royce Gets Investor Nod for $2.6 Billion Equity Sale

“We didn’t want to put the business and our shareholders’ interests at risk by gambling on the situation next year so that’s why we chose to go with this package now,” the CEO said at an investor meeting.

Even with funding secured, Rolls-Royce still faces an uphill road to recovery. The twin-aisle planes the company supplies are predicted to take until at least 2025 to recover to pre-pandemic levels and the group has announced plans to cut 9,000 jobs.

Rolls-Royce recently updated civil aerospace staff on the restructuring, a company spokeswoman said Tuesday. Plans include the temporary shuttering of factories, reducing working hours and cutting benefits, according to the Financial Times.

The company is also taking steps to shrink its sprawling global footprint. According to a recent investor presentation, Rolls plans to consolidate widebody assembly and testing as well as the machining of turbine blades at its Derby site, while focusing fan blade production in Singapore and manufacturing of components in Derby and Germany.

The British engine maker is paying the price for a strategy decided before the crisis, which was to only make engines for larger twin-aisle aircraft that have been hit hardest by travel restrictions to contain the virus.

East has said that he doesn’t see any opportunities for new engine programs this decade, though Rolls-Royce has expressed interest in providing for a new, midrange jetliner if Boeing Co. decides to move forward with the concept, according to people familiar with the matter.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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