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UPDATE 1-Saga bulks up finances with bond issue ahead of resuming cruises

(Adds details, background on the sector)

June 22 (Reuters) - Over-50s holidays group Saga Plc on Tuesday launched a 250 million pound ($347 million) bond offering and said it would also extend its debt maturities to gain financial flexibility, as it prepares to resume its cruise operations.

The company, which also owns an insurance business, said it has mandated Barclays Bank, HSBC Bank, Mizuho International and NatWest Markets to carry out roadshows for the offering.

UK-listed Saga is set to restart cruises this weekend after months-long suspension due to the pandemic, which has been particularly harsh on the industry after multiple coronavirus outbreaks in various cruise ships.

Last week, the company said bookings would likely meet 60% of its revenue targets for the current year.

Even as mass vaccination drives in major economies including the United States and the UK have led to strong bookings for the summer season, uncertainties remain, as emphasised by an update from Saga’s U.S. rival Royal Caribbean last week.

Royal Caribbean had to delay the launch its new cruise liner by nearly a month after eight crew members tested positive for the virus.

($1 = 0.7200 pounds)

Reporting by Muvija M in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel and Rashmi Aich

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