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WHSmith raises £165m from investors

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WHSmith Victoria Station, London
WHSmith Victoria Station, London

High-street stationery and books retailer WHSmith has successfully raised nearly £166m from investors after launching an emergency cash call to shore up its finances during the coronavirus crisis. This includes more than 7000 new shares from its own CEO, Carl Cowling.


The retailer succeeded in placing 15.8m shares at 1050p per share, a discount of 4p on the previous day’s closing share price, the equivalent of 13.7% of the company’s share capital.


Before putting out the emergency cash call, the company said it had secured a new lending facility of £120m, dependent on completing the equity release.


WHSmith issued a profits warning in March after the pandemic-related travel restrictions resulted in a drop in customers at its airport outlets, first in the Asia Pacific region, then globally.


The retailer has said its annual profits are likely to be half the £80m previously forecast.


WHSmith’s 140 UK hospital stores, and 203 stores with Post Office counters remain open, representing around 30% of its UK store footprint.


The retailer has said the equity raise would strengthen its balance sheet, working capital and liquidity position during the coronavirus pandemic.

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