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UK's Informa posts first-half loss after nearly 600 million pound COVID-19 hit

(Reuters) - Informa Plc, the world’s largest exhibitions group, posted a half-year loss of nearly 740 million pounds ($958.89 million) on Monday and unveiled a new round of cost-cuts, including both voluntary and compulsory layoffs and the closure of offices, as it struggles with the fallout of COVID-19 travel bans and lockdowns.

The London-based company, whose shares have sunk 45% since March as the global pandemic decimated the events industry, said a combination of lower costs and effective cash management would make it cashflow positive on a monthly basis by January next year.

As part of its plan to save 600 million pounds by the end of the year though cost-cuts, Informa said it would lay off staff in North America and Europe, the Middle East and Africa regions to align with an expected drop in revenues and a rise in costs.

Many analysts believe the events industry has already hit a bottom this year though some have warned that as long as business travel remains subdued, the first half of 2021 would be bleak.

Informa said it has extended its postponement programme to mid- to late-spring of next year and that it was targeting revenues of around 1.7 billion pounds in 2020. In the first half of the previous year, the company had posted a profit of 248.3 million pounds.

On an adjusted basis, Informa reported operating profit of 118.6 million pounds on revenues of 814.4 million pounds, beating analysts’ expectations.

Analysts, on average, had expected adjusted operating profit of 68.6 million pounds on revenues of 759.9 million pounds, according to a company-compiled consensus of estimates.

The company in April had cancelled its dividend and raised 1 billion pounds in equity to buffer the impact of the pandemic, and said on Monday it intended to renegotiate its debt terms with its lenders.

($1 = 0.7717 pounds)

Reporting by Yadarisa Shabong in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu