Whitbread refinances debt to exit lockdown in leaner shape

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Whitbread today announced the successful pricing of two green bonds, the extension of its revolving credit facility and its intention to repay private placement notes.

The company said the refinancing maintains its strong balance sheet and financial flexibility, while at the same time extending the maturity of its debt.

The impact on the group’s combined gross debt and available facilities as a result of the £550m new green bonds is largely offset by a step down in the RCF of £225m in September 2022, and the proposed repayment of approximately £284m of private placement notes.

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Whitbread said it had priced the issue of £300m 2.375% green bonds due May 2027 and £250m 3.0% green bonds due May 2031.

An amount equal to the proceeds of the bonds will be used to finance or refinance eligible green projects and supports Whitbread’s long-standing commitment to ESG principles and its Force for Good programme.

Whitbread has also reached an agreement with its relationship banks to extend the final maturity date of its revolving credit facility from September 2022 to September 2023.

The facility size, which is currently £950m, will step down to £850m at 29 December 2021 and to £725m at 7 September 2022.

As part of this agreement, the covenant waiver period has been extended by 12 months, meaning the financial covenants will not now be tested until March 2023, at which point new covenant targets will be introduced.

The group has approximately £284m of private placement notes that mature in 2021, 2022 and 2027.

It intends to repay the 2021 and 2022 notes (£25m and $93.5m respectively) on their scheduled maturity dates of 6 September 2021 and 26 January 2022 respectively, and to repay the other notes (£200m) in the near future.

Nicholas Cadbury, group finance director at Whitbread, said: “We are particularly pleased that we have been able to reinforce Whitbread’s long-term commitment to sustainability by establishing this Green Bond Framework and issuing these green bonds.

“Whitbread is committed to being a force for good for all our stakeholders, including our people, customers, suppliers, in the communities in which we operate, and for the wider world around us.

“The refinancing announced today demonstrates the strength of our underlying business, and is another key step in ensuring that we emerge from the crisis as a leaner, stronger and more resilient business.”

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Andrew Seymour

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