* SSP plans 500 mln pounds cash call – FT
* Co says continues to assess merits of raising funds
* SSP says liquidity position is strong (Adds SSP’s response, background)
Feb 10 (Reuters) – British travel food company SSP Group said on Wednesday it continued to assess the merits of raising funds but stopped short of confirming a Financial Times report that it was planning a 500-million-pound ($692 million) cash call within weeks.
Travel food firms are grappling with a resurgence in COVID-19 infections and further lockdowns in the United Kingdom and continental Europe, resulting in big financial losses.
“There remains significant uncertainty with regard to COVID-19 and associated travel restrictions,” SSP Group said. “The group continues to evaluate the merits of a range of funding options, both debt and equity.”
The company said its liquidity position was strong, with cash and undrawn available facilities of around 520 million pounds as at Sept. 30.
If the FT report that the company is planning to raise up to 500 million pounds from shareholders is confirmed, it would mark SSP’s second cash call since the pandemic struck. It raised nearly 216 million pounds through an emergency share issue in March last year.
SSP in December said that it expected first-quarter sales to sink 80% due to rising coronavirus cases in Europe.
The company’s shares have slumped about 50% in the past 12 months.
$1 = 0.7225 pounds Reporting by Samantha Machado in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni, Ramakrishnan M. and Pravin Char