UPDATE 1-Norwegian Air expects $840 mln cash position post capital hike

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OSLO, May 3 (Reuters) - Budget airline Norwegian Air said it expects to have a cash holding of 7 billion crowns ($843 million) if it manages to raise the full amount of capital it is seeking this month.

Norwegian is aiming to raise 6 billion crowns in fresh capital as part of a scheme to emerge from bankruptcy protection in Ireland and Norway on May 26.

The cash will come from a mix of perpetual bonds and equity, with the new shares sold at only 6.26 crowns each, a steep discount to the 55.25 crowns it trades at in Oslo.

The airline said it expects total liabilities to be around 16 billion to 18 billion Norwegian crowns, of which about a third is aircraft-related debt, after the process is completed.

Norwegian said on Monday it had support from “cornerstone” investors such as the asset management arms of Nordic banks Nordea and DNB and Geveran Trading, an investment vehicle of shipping magnate John Fredriksen.

The domestic pension fund of the Norwegian state, Folketrygdfondet, is also among them. Norway had said it would take part in the capital raise.

Financed largely by debt, Norwegian grew rapidly as it served routes across Europe and to North and South America, Southeast Asia and the Middle East before the COVID-19 pandemic plunged airlines into crisis.

The carrier is now operating nine aircraft, mainly on domestic routes. It will have a fleet of 51 jets after the restructuring, down from around 160 before the pandemic. ($1 = 8.3077 Norwegian crowns)

Reporting by Gwladys Fouche; Editing by Terje Solsvik and Alexander Smith