- Australian-based developer and contractor Lendlease has taken steps to strengthen its balance sheet in light of the coronavirus’s impact on its global operations.
- The company has asked investors for AUD 1.15 billion (U.S. $744 million) via a fully underwritten institutional placement of $950 million that closed last week and a non-underwritten security purchase plan to eligible security holders of up to $200 million. The funds will increase the firm’s available liquidity to just shy of $4 billion, support its $112 billion global development pipeline and provide flexibility for further investments, said CEO Steve McCann in a statement.
- The company also said last week that senior staff and non-executive board members will take salary and fee cuts of up to 20% and that a decision on a final dividend for FY 2020 would be postponed for the time being.
Since the coronavirus outbreak, Lendlease has faced delays and shutdowns at key project sites, weaker apartment sales and settlements and reduced productivity in construction activity, according to an analysis by Moody’s Investors Service provided to Construction Dive. Site shutdowns mandated by government orders have impacted projects in New York City, Boston, London, Singapore and Milan, McCann said.
“Sites in some of these locations are now progressing towards restart,” McCann said. “Extensions of time on projects that have been mandated to pause by governments or clients should mitigate the financial risk.”
The company also said last week that it is still intending to exit its engineer business via a sale to Spanish infrastructure and building group Acciona but the sale of its Services business has been paused given the uncertainty in market conditions.
These cost-cutting initiatives combined with the equity raising will help to offset the impact of weaker earnings and cash flow from COVID-19 related disruptions and should allow for credit metrics to return to more appropriate levels for the rating, following a resumption of more normal activities, Moody’s said.
Other large multinational contractors also have announced measures in recent weeks to mitigate the pandemic’s effect on their bottom lines. Skanska, Balfour Beatty and Jacobs Engineering announced pay freezes or cuts for top leaders in March and Fluor said last week it would suspend its dividend in light of the economic disruption and weak commodity prices.
In addition, private firm Bechtel has cut senior vice presidents’ pay by up to 25% for the next 90 days, according to Exchange Monitor.