Saga looking for £170mln loan package ahead of cruise restart

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Saga PLC (LON:SAGA) is said to be in talks about a £170mln debt package to tide it over until its cruises restart in May.

The over-50s specialist is said to be using its insurance business to raise the loans as it is the stronger of its two divisions at present, wrote Sky News.

Talks are ongoing and some way from being agreed, the report added.

In a trading update last month, Saga flagged it was talking to its lenders due to the continued suspension of its travel arm because of coronavirus.

Saga recently delayed the restart of its cruise operation by a month until 4 May and is now insisting all passengers are fully vaccinated against COVID‑19 at least 14 days before sailing. Saga’s cruises have been suspended since last March.

In the trading update, Saga said that at the end of December 2020 net debt stood at £785mln, up £139mln since the end of July after receiving delivery of the Spirit of Adventure cruise ship and partially offset by proceeds from September’s £150mln capital raise.

Cash balances at the end of 2020 were £51mln and there was an undrawn £100mln bank facility, with the total up £22mln since July.

The fundraise also brought Sir Roger de Haan, Saga’s former chief executive and son of the founder, back as a major shareholder and chairman. De Haan sold Saga for £1.3bn in 2004.

Euan Sutherland, Saga’s chief executive, said then it was “taking actions to further enhance financial flexibility”, reviewing the covenants attached to a term loan and bank facility, while a package of measures available for the cruise industry could allow for the deferral of up to £45mln of principal payments due to be made from April.

Shares in Saga eased 2.8% to 290.4p, valuing the group’s equity at £406mln.

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