Airbnb holds meeting with bankers to extend $1 billion debt facility: source

(Reuters) – Airbnb Inc on Wednesday held a phone meeting with bankers to discuss extending an existing $1 billion debt facility as the home rental start-up grapples with a slowdown from the coronavirus outbreak, according to a source who participated in the meeting. 

The deliberations echo that of many U.S. companies that have been rushing to borrow more money and boost their cash coffers as the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic hits their business and threatens a prolonged downturn.

Airbnb’s current debt facility was agreed in 2016 and was led by JPMorgan, Citigroup Inc, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America Corp.

The source who participated in the Wednesday meeting said the credit facility had never been used and that it was not expiring for another year, but the company was looking to extend that period to be prudent. Airbnb has $3 billion in cash, he said.

Airbnb’s revenue in 2019 exceeded $4.8 billion, a 35% increase year-on-year, excluding any foreign exchange impacts, and 2019 was the fourth straight year that the company was cash flow positive, according to the source. The company, which said in September that it planned to list its shares in 2020, had expected earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization to be break or even positive in 2020 prior to the coronavirus pandemic, he said. 

The source said Airbnb told bankers that models show the number of nights booked would recover from the current slump, reaching 2019 bookings levels again by early 2021.

Airbnb’s bookings in major cities across the world have suffered as travelers cancel trips and stay at home to protect themselves and prevent the spread of coronavirus, data from Airbnb-analytics firm AirDNA shows.

To demonstrate the resiliency of the business, Airbnb executives shared data from Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria in 2017. According to an internal document, the number of Airbnb listings in Puerto Rico rebounded from about 7,700 just before the hurricane, to more than 8,300 one year later, and now exceed 12,000. 

Airbnb said in a blog posting earlier this month that the coronavirus would impact bookings in the near-term.

Still, Airbnb has received inquiries from potential investors who want to acquire a stake in the U.S. home rental company in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, people familiar with the matter told Reuters last week.

Two sources told Reuters the interest ranges from $100 million to $1 billion, and that Airbnb was still in “listening” mode.

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