National Express Group PLC (LON:NEX), the coach and train operator, has raised £235mln from shareholders to tide it over in the event of extended lockdowns to control the coronavirus pandemic.

The UK and US-focused transport group said it is planning for a worst-case scenario where revenue only starts to recover from the start of June and runs at about 25% below pre-pandemic levels all throughout 2021.

In the current quarter, revenue has been running at about 50% below the level before the pandemic, National Express said, but it is still generating an underlying profit and cash at this level of trading.

The group also said it wants to start paying a dividend again with the 2021 interim results.

In a statement, Dean Finch, National Express‘ chief executive, said: “We have acted swiftly and decisively and have made significant cost-cutting measures, struck agreements with public authorities and contracted customers to maintain payment, and secured enhanced liquidity and covenant waivers.

“The placing builds on these actions, providing enhanced resilience and financial flexibility as we address an extended period of uncertainty.”

At a price of 230p apiece, a 3.4% discount to the previous 238p closing price, 101.9mln shares were issued in an institutional placing, with certain members of management also subscribe for another 428,782 shares, together around 19.99% of National Express‘ current shares in issue.

The FTSE 250-listed group’s shares fell 4% to 228p by Wednesday afternoon, down 52% so far this year and valuing the company at just under £1.2bn.

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