UPDATE 2-Informa raises 1 bln pounds via share sale to buffer virus impact

(Adds proceed of share placement, price, shares)

April 16 (Reuters) - Informa, the world’s largest organiser of business conferences and exhibitions, raised 1 billion pounds ($1.24 billion) through a share sale as the coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation or rescheduling of hundreds of events.

London-listed Informa on Thursday placed shares worth 20% of capital at 400 pence apiece, a 4% discount to their close price on April 15. Shares of the company ended 4.9% higher at 437.4 pence.

The company, which also plans to access funds under Britain’s COVID Corporate Finance Facility, said the latest round of capital raising would boost its total cash reserve to 2.3 billion pounds.

Informa said its main businesses, which account for about 65% of its revenue, have continued to struggle due to a lack of events in April and expects the drop in business activity to stretch through the second and much of the third quarter.

The company, however, sees a “gradual and phased recovery from Q3 into the final quarter of the year”.

Informa has so far rescheduled 60 large and around 350 small events, representing 460 million pounds in revenue to the last four months of 2020. It has also rephased or cancelled more than 60 events that would have brought in revenue in excess of 150 million pounds.

Informa said it has already implemented a range of cost control actions, including reviewing contractors and consultants, pausing recruitment and management pay cuts, securing more than 130 million pounds in annualised savings so far.

The company, which also has academic publishing and business intelligence operations, said it was in constructive talks on a covenant waiver for its U.S. private placement debt.

It has withdrawn its 2019 final dividend and intends to review the policy later in 2020.

$1 = 0.8020 pounds Reporting by Tanishaa Nadkar and additional reporting by Shanima A in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri and Anil D’Silva