Norwegian Cruise Line raised more than $2 billion in a mix of stock and debt, ensuring the company can outlast the coronavirus pandemic for at least the next year without any revenue if necessary, the company announced Wednesday.
The company warned Tuesday that it might not have enough funding to get through the next 12 months. The fresh capital will give Norwegian $3.5 billion in liquidity once the transactions close, which it says will give the company enough cash to endure “well over 12 months of voyage suspensions in a potential downside scenario.”
The coronavirus pandemic has brought the global travel industry, and the cruise industry in particular, to a standstill across the world. Norwegian, the smallest of the three major publicly traded cruise companies, said it had roughly $6 billion in long-term debt obligations as of Dec. 31.
The company said it issued $400 million in fresh stock and about $1.43 billion in two debt offerings. That’s on top of a $400 million investment it received earlier this week from private equity fund L Catterton. The combined transactions gives Norwegian $2.23 billion in fresh capital, but that could rise to $2.4 billion “due to significant oversubscription and demand” for the stock and bond offerings.
On Tuesday, Norwegian said it may have to seek bankruptcy protection if it couldn’t raise enough liquidity, adding that there was “substantial doubt” about its ability to continue as a “going concern” as the coronavirus pandemic wreaks havoc on the industry. However, the additional capital alleviates those concerns, the company said.
“This significantly strengthens the company’s financial position and liquidity runway and it now expects to be positioned to withstand well over 12 months of voyage suspensions in a potential downside scenario,” Norwegian said in a statement Wednesday.
Norwegian said Tuesday it was in compliance with all of its debt agreements as of March 31, but it couldn’t guarantee that going forward and said it may need to seek waivers from its lenders or bankruptcy protection.
The company also announced it expects to report a loss for the quarter ended March 31 and on the year.
In March, the company fully drew down an $875 million revolving credit facility and a separate $675 million revolving credit line. The latter matures on March 4, 2021.
As the virus spread rapidly among some cruise passengers in early March, the State Department warned Americans against traveling by cruise ship. On March 14, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a no-sail order for cruise ships, extending it on April 9 until July 24.
“This is the first time that we have completely suspended cruise voyages, and as a result of these unprecedented circumstances, we are not able to predict the full impact of such a suspension on our company,” Norwegian said Tuesday.
The company is preparing to provide cash refunds for passengers whose cruises were canceled. While the company is also offering 125% future cruise credits, it said “approximately half of the guests who have had their voyages cancelled and who have contacted us have requested cash refunds.”
Even if guests accept the credit, the company warned of diminished future revenue when the company can resume sailing.
“We cannot predict when any of our ships will begin to sail again or when ports will reopen to our ships,” it said Tuesday. “Moreover, even once travel advisories and restrictions are lifted, demand for cruises may remain weak for a significant length of time and we cannot predict if and when each brand will return to pre-outbreak demand or pricing.”
The company also said it is cutting capital expenditures by $515 million and has furloughed 20% of its shoreside staff.
The news comes after competitor Carnival Corp., the world’s largest cruise company, announced Monday that its Carnival Cruise Line will resume some North American sailings on Aug. 1.