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GL posts H1 net loss of US$19.8m as Covid-19 pandemic closes British hotels

MAINBOARD-LISTED hotel operator GL sank into the red in its first half-year, as the Covid-19 pandemic hit its British portfolio, unaudited results on Wednesday showed.

GL, formerly known as GuocoLeisure, posted a net loss of US$19.8 million for the six months to Dec 31, 2020, against a profit of US$26.9 million previously.

This was in spite of US$26.5 million in other operating income from insurance claims over the Covid-19 business interruption, as well as government pandemic relief schemes in both Britain and Singapore.

Group revenue tumbled to US$19.5 million, down by 89.9 per cent from US$193.3 million in the year before, on lower turnover in both the hotel and oil and gas segments.

Most of the group's core hospitality properties were closed during the reporting period, no thanks to pandemic-related curbs in the British operating market.

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GL said it is expecting its UK hotels to continue facing a difficult operating environment this year, as new lockdowns in January have shuttered hotels again. The group pointed to uncertainty over when the properties will be allowed to re-open, and also noted: "The Covid-19 pandemic continues to significantly curtail business activity in London and depress demand for London hotel rooms."

In the oil and gas business, revenue fell on lower crude oil and gas prices, despite support from the Australian dollar's gains against the greenback. GL said that it had acted to preserve liquidity through measures such as pursuing insurance claims and ensuring the availability of credit facilities.

The group had secured borrowings of US$76.8 million and unsecured borrowings of US$176 million as at end-2020. It noted that it still has banking lines for funding needs.

Loss per share came to 1.5 US cents for the half-year, against earnings per share of 2.1 US cents before. Net asset value stood at 72.3 US cents a share, down from 82.8 US cents as at June 30, 2020.

No dividend was recommended for the period, unchanged from the year before.

Its shares added S$0.01 or 1.82 per cent to S$0.56, before the results came out.

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