Metro Bank Bonds, Stock Drop as Lender Seeks Capital Raise

Metro Bank Holdings Plc shares and bonds tumbled Thursday as the lender confirmed it is exploring a potential capital raise.

(Bloomberg) — Metro Bank Holdings Plc shares and bonds tumbled Thursday as the lender confirmed it is exploring a potential capital raise. 

A £250 million bond that provides tier 2 capital to the bank fell 17 pence on the pound to 37 pence, marking its biggest drop on record. A £350 million senior bond fell 8.5 pence to 61.6 pence, hitting a record low, based on prices compiled by Bloomberg. Shares in the lender were down almost a quarter at 11:14 a.m. in London.

It’s less than a month since the last price slump, when Metro Bank suffered a setback in its attempt to get regulatory approval for changes that would allow it to reduce the capital it’s required to hold.

The lender said in a statement Thursday that it was “evaluating the merits of a range of options, including a combination of equity issuance, debt issuance and /or refinancing and asset sales,” confirming an earlier Bloomberg News report. It said no decision had been made on whether to proceed with any of these options.

The bank’s top executives are set to meet with UK financial regulators on Thursday, according to the Financial Times. Chief Executive Officer Daniel Frumkin and Chair Robert Sharpe will meet with the Bank of England’s Prudential Regulation Authority and the Financial Conduct Authority, the FT said, citing unnamed people familiar with the situation.

The FCA, PRA and Metro Bank all declined comment to the FT on the regulatory meeting.

In Thursday’s statement, Metro Bank noted it has been profitable on an underlying basis for three consecutive quarters ending June 30 and it expects its third quarter trading update to show continued momentum.

“We suspect that some form of ‘friends and family’ transaction targeted at existing equity / debt investors would be the most likely prospect,” Edward Firth, an analyst at KBW, said in a note.

The company, which has hired Morgan Stanley to advise it on its options, had £22 billion ($26.6 billion) of total assets at the end of June. It currently has a market value of about £65 million, compared with £3.2 billion at the end of 2017. Its total short and long-term debt amounted to £4.9 billion at the end of 2022, based on data compiled by Bloomberg.

Read More: Metro Bank Hires Morgan Stanley to Explore Capital Raise

Willett Advisors LLC, the investment arm for the personal and philanthropic assets of Michael Bloomberg, founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP, held shares in Metro Bank as of November 2021, according to a regulatory filing.

–With assistance from Leonard Kehnscherper.

(Adds report of meetings with regulators in fifth paragraph.)

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