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On the Beach launches £67m fundraiser as bosses reveal extent of refund bill

The travel firm also said it believes airspace restrictions lifting by the end of September has ‘become increasingly plausible’.

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On the Beach says it will be raising money to cope with the hit to the industry (LHR Airports / PA)

On the Beach says it will be raising money to cope with the hit to the industry (LHR Airports / PA)

On the Beach says it will be raising money to cope with the hit to the industry (LHR Airports / PA)

On the Beach will tap up shareholders for up to £67 million as part of plans to help the package holiday firm emerge stronger from the coronavirus crisis, the company said.

The online package holiday firm said it would be placing up to 19.9% new shares onto the market, for current and new corporate investors to snap up, as it added airspace being closed until the end of September has “become increasingly plausible”.

The company added it expects to take a hit of £35 million from cancelled bookings, as it processes refunds – although this will be classed as a “material exceptional charge” in accounts.

A ring-fenced trust account for customer funds, helps to differentiate On the Beach from its competitors and has stood us apart when providing customers the refunds they are entitled to in these difficult timesSimon Cooper, On the Beach

Shares closed on Thursday at 257.5p, up 9.3%, although the announcement came just after stock markets closed.

If the company wanted to raise 20% or more of the firm’s value it would need to publish a lengthy, and costly, prospectus.

Bosses added: “In late February, with the spread of Covid-19 into the Canary Islands, the industry witnessed a dramatic fall in holiday booking volumes and airspace subsequently closed in mid-March.

“The length of this airspace closure remains unknown and the Board is of the view that the vast majority of bookings taken in (the first half of the year) will not travel as planned in (the second half).”

The actions on Thursday are to “ensure that the Group is better placed to survive than its peers, while it prepares to capitalise on the multiple opportunities that these market conditions are likely to present”.

On the Beach also revealed it has increased its existing overdraft with a £25 million revolving credit facility taken out with Lloyds Bank under the Government’s Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

It adds to the £50 million facility recently renegotiated until December 2023.

Chief executive Simon Cooper said: “The fundraising and banking facilities announced today will provide On the Beach with greater flexibility and firepower to ensure the Group is ready to take advantage of the multiple opportunities that are likely to arise across the travel industry, as and when the world emerges from the ongoing crisis.”

He added that a “ring-fenced trust account for customer funds, helps to differentiate On the Beach from its competitors and has stood us apart when providing customers the refunds they are entitled to in these difficult times.”

PA