One of the great business ideas to come out of the current ... 'situation' is the need for calculator screens to allow more zeros. The numbers are just much bigger these days. Gone are those conversations when someone would stop a mere whipper-snapper like £10 million on the street and say:
"Aren't you like your dad?"
Not any more, I'm not. My dad was a mere stripling of £100 million. I'm playing in the big leagues, now; I could buy my dad on a single day's losses on the Norwegian stock exchange. Millions are so last century. If it doesn't end in billions any more (apologies, Apple and UK National Debt, trillions) no-one pays any attention. Last week Richard tried to work out the national debt multiplied by the years it will take to repay it and his iPhone melted. It just isn't up to the job.
So, when the papers report today that ('troubled', 'much-beleaguered', 'financially plagued'. We in the NTI newsroom are running a new service from today, allowing you to choose your own adjective) Rolls-Royce has confirmed it is considering a £2.5 billion cash call after months of speculation about its financial position, pushing shares in the company to a 16 year low.
"£2.5 billion," you say to no-one in particular, patting your pockets to subliminally check if you have it in there, "dear, dear, that's a lot."
It is a lot, but a Chinook helicopter in the Gobi Desert doesn't look very big. We are getting inured to such numbers. You may recall one of Billy's recent articles that reported Rolls-Royce's business has been so brutally buggered it was forced to announce a record £5.4 billion loss for the first half of the year in August. (Yawn.) The company have announced that “rapid management actions” had allowed it to reduce its costs and secure additional liquidity, including a £2 billion loan, partly backed by the Government credit agency UK Export Finance which it finalised in August. £2 billion, eh? That is just the GDP of Bhutan. It's nothing.
Rolls-Royce shares closed down 11 per cent on Monday after the company confirmed it was considering an equity raise, making it one of the biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 on a big day for such things. You could say that Rolls is so knackered that it will need about ten of its spellbindingly beautiful Trent XWB engines (built exclusively for the Airbus 350) on full take-off power to pull it out of the mire.
Neither aircraft nor any business associated with the aircraft industry is going anywhere soon and Rolls-Royce cannot afford to park up for long.