JD Wetherspoon to raise $175 million via placement; plans June reopening

FILE PHOTO: A Wetherspoon’s logo is seen at a pub in central London, Britain January 23, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

(Reuters) – British pubs group JD Wetherspoon (JDW.L) plans to raise 141 million pounds ($175 million) in a share placing as it tries to cope with the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced all pubs to close.

The company said on Wednesday it would place up to 15.7 million shares with investors at 900 pence apiece. That compares with the stock’s closing price of 957.5 pence earlier in the day.

JD Wetherspoon also said around 43,000 employees, accounting for more than 99% of its workforce, had been furloughed and there had been no job losses to date, although that would remain under review.

“We’ve had to take significant action to reduce costs, decisions which have not been taken lightly,” said founder and chairman Tim Martin, who along with chief executive John Hutson will take a 50% salary cut.

The company said it was starting to plan for the reopening of pubs in or around June, after the British government ordered their closure in March.

It also said it expected to be eligible for a loan of up to 50 million pounds under the British government’s Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, JD Wetherspoon had – like most pub and restaurant chains – been battling increased costs due to a mandatory minimum wage hike, higher property prices and power bills.

Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru; Editing by Keith Weir and Mark Potter

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