Norwegian shares plummet by more than half on dilution fears

Norwegian shares plummet by more than half on dilution fears
Is the sun finally about to set on Norwegian? Photo: David Charles Peacock
Shares in Norwegian Air Shuttle plummeted 63 percent when the Oslo Stock Exchange opened on Tuesday, as investors reacted to plans announced last week to convert a massive 44.5bn kroner ($4.3bn) of debt into new shares.
The fall was so sharp that the exchange was forced to place the shares under “special observation”, a measure taken only when valuations are extremely uncertain. The shares then rebounded and by Tuesday afternoon were trading at about a 30 percent down on where they ended the week last Thursday. 
 
Mads Johannesen, investment economy at the online share trading company Nordnet, said that the company's rescue plan threatened to severely dilute existing shareholders.  
 
“Existing stockholders today wouldn't be left with much if they decide to fully dilute the bonds and convert them into equity, so it doesn't look promising,” he told The Local. “I guess they're going to survive in some form, but how they're going to look coming out the other side depends on the negotiations.” 
 
 
The international brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein on Tuesday cut its target price for the company's shares to zero. 
 
“Norwegian is at the end of the line,” the brokerage's analyst Daniel Roeska wrote in a note to clients announcing the decision. “Rounded to the nearest Krone, existing shares are all but worthless.”
 
The Norwegian government last month made the overwhelming majority of the 3bn kroner in loan guarantees it offered the airline conditional it successfully swapping some of its near 80bn kroner debt pile for equity. 
 
Norwegian is now negotiating with banks and bondholders to convert more than half of its debt into shares, before putting the plan to existing shareholders at a meeting on May 4.
 
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