Whitbread, the operator of the Costa Coffee, Premier Inn and Brewers Fayre chains, has announced it has signed a new five-year banking facility of £650m, replacing its existing facilities of £930m. The effective blended interest rate on the group's total borrowings for the balance of this financial year will be just over 6% falling to c5.5% from February 2012 on the maturity of a number of interest rate swaps. It said that it has been its policy for some time to diversify its sources of debt and extend its maturity profile. In the last two years total funding of the equivalent of £250m has been made available to the group from private placement notes with maturities from 2017-2021, to which has been added this new five year £650m facility. Christopher Rogers, group finance director said: “We are pleased to have secured the support of our core relationship banks for a loan at an attractive rate, which together with our private placement notes, meet the medium term funding needs of the group to support our growth programme.” Last month, the leisure group, reported a 15.2% rise in underlying profit for the six months to 1 September, with Costa once again leading the growth in a “variable” trading environment. Underlying profit before tax for the group was £174.9m (2010/2011: £151.8m) on revenue up 10.7% to £891.3m. Like-for-like sales were up 3.3% in the half year. Profit after tax and exceptional items for the half-year was £159.2m (2010/2011: £116m).