Events solutions business Arena Events Group has enhanced its financial position amid COVID-19 through a £9.5m (€10.5m/$11.6m) share issue and a £4.75m loan from HSBC.
Earlier this month, Arena issued a grim financial forecast and news of a cost reduction programme. The global temporary event solutions provider said “uncertainty over the likely duration of the disruption” caused by the pandemic and increasing number of cancellations and postponements meant it would face a tough start to the new financial year.
Saudi Arabian holding group TasHeel has taken 60 million shares through a subscription at 10p, while a further 35 million have been issued via a placing with Swiss private bank Lombard Odier taking more than half of these.
Arena last month secured two significant contracts. The company was appointed to develop a new seating system at West Ham United’s London Stadium as the English Premier League football club looks to bring fans closer to the pitch. It also announced a deal with Scottish Rugby to develop and supply a new seating system for Pro14 team Edinburgh Rugby’s new stadium, currently being constructed on the back pitches of BT Murrayfield.
However, Arena has been badly affected by the cancellation of sporting and social events, with question marks over the status of two of its major clients. The Open golf major is still scheduled to go ahead at Royal St George’s in Kent, England on July 16-19, with tennis grand slam Wimbledon poised to make a decision on this year’s tournament.
In a statement released on Wednesday, organising body AELTC said it will hold an emergency meeting next week. The build for the 2020 Championships is due to begin at the end of April. AELTC said: “At this time, based on the advice we have received from the public health authorities, the very short window available to us to stage the Championships due to the nature of our surface suggests that postponement is not without significant risk and difficulty. Playing behind closed doors has been formally ruled out.”
Commenting on the fresh funding, Arena CEO Greg Lawless said: “We are delighted with the support we have received from our shareholders and lending bank. The funds raised will allow the Group to continue operating as it navigates its way through this difficult period.
“We have been working tirelessly to implement plans to limit the human, financial and commercial consequences of this terrible health disaster on all Arena stakeholders. We have initiated significant cash conservation initiatives across all divisions of the Group, whilst ensuring the health and safety of all our employees to secure the long term future of the Group.
“These initiatives have significantly reduced the Group’s future monthly cash outflows which together with the additional financial support from our shareholders and our lending bank puts the Group in a strong financial position to weather the very difficult current market environment.
“We continue to work with all our customers in relation to events scheduled to take place after May in order to mitigate the possible financial and operational impacts in the case further events are cancelled.”