Thu | Feb 25, 2021

Knutsford to fully draw down $150m bond by March

Published:Friday | January 22, 2021 | 12:16 AM

A Knutsford Express luxury coach.
A Knutsford Express luxury coach.
Knutsford Express Services Limited CEO Oliver Townsend
Knutsford Express Services Limited CEO Oliver Townsend
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Bus company Knutsford Express Services Limited, which offers cross-country commutes, should benefit from improved cash in its operations as it continues to draw down on borrowed funds to withstand the recession and fallout in travel.

Knutsford secured a $150-million bond in 2019 to finance its development in St Ann. That development is nearly completed. The company drew down $50 million of its bond during the November quarter and expects to draw down on its third and final tranche between February and March, said CEO Oliver Townsend.

“The $50 million was an additional drawdown from the Jamaica National bond earmarked for our Drax Hall Business Centre development,” said Townsend. “Three drawdowns of $50 million each.”

The company also secured a separate $15-million loan to acquire a mid-sized bus. It is one of three medium-sized buses the company plans to acquire in short order. These buses were ordered pre-COVID.

“We will be deploying these units on our new business class service in February 2021,” said Townsend. The units will carry fewer passengers to facilitate physical distancing.

The pandemic has had a negative effect on travel, both internationally as well as local commutes, robbing Knutsford Express of its usual passenger volumes. However, the luxury coach service expects to have sufficient cash to weather the downturn that began with the March 2020 detection of COVID-19 within the country’s borders.

Up to November 2020, Knutsford held $71 million in cash – some of which came from the bond and loan drawdowns – which augmented its six-month net loss of $59 million. In the year-prior period, the company made half-year profit of $67 million, and held cash of $121 million. Its equity, or book value, dipped year-on-year from $807 million to $711 million.

steven.jackson@gleanerjm.com