Company news in brief

25 March 2020 | Business

Diageo to boost hand sanitiser supplies

Drinks giant Diageo said Monday it would supply two million litres of alcohol to make anti-bacterial hand sanitiser to boost stocks depleted by the global coronavirus outbreak.

The British-based company, whose brands include Smirnoff vodka, Johnnie Walker whisky and Guinness, said the alcohol would help to make eight million 250ml bottles.

Priority would be given to frontline health professionals battling the spread of the disease, it added.

Ethyl alcohol of 96% strength normally used to make gin and vodka will be made available to Britain and Ireland, the United States, India, Kenya, Italy, Australia, and Brazil.

The move is the latest by drinks companies around the world. – Nampa/AFP

AB InBev scraps 2020 outlook

Anheuser-Busch InBev , the world's largest brewer, said yesterday it was scrapping its 2020 outlook as the scale of the coronavirus increased.

The Belgium-based maker of Budweiser, Stella Artois and Corona had forecast at the end of February that core profit (EBITDA) would decline by 10% in the first quarter and by between 2 and 5% for the full year.

At the time, the coronavirus crisis was largely confined to China.

"Since 27 February 2020, the scale and magnitude of Covid-19 has increased significantly, resulting in restrictions imposed on many customers, as well as other limitations and social distancing measures in many countries in mid-March," the company said in a statement.

The company said it was pressing ahead with a US$11 billion sale to Asahi Group Holdings of its Australian operations and hoped to get regulatory approvals to allow the deal to close as soon as possible in the second quarter of 2020. – Nampa/Reuters

Singapore Air cuts affecting 10 000 staff

Singapore Airlines (SIA) will cut capacity by 96%, ground almost its entire fleet and impose cost cuts affecting about 10 000 staff because of coronavirus travel curbs it described as the "greatest challenge" it has ever faced.

The global aviation industry is struggling to absorb shocks from the pandemic, with airlines across the world grounding fleets, placing thousands of workers on unpaid leave and seeking state bailouts to survive the crisis.

The measures by SIA, majority owned by state investor Temasek, follow Singapore's decision to close its borders to stem spread of the virus.

SIA said it has drawn on its credit lines in the past few days to meet immediate cash flow requirements and is in talks with several financial institutions over future funding needs.

In a memo to staff, SIA chief executive Goh Choon Phong said the airline had agreed with unions on cost-cutting measures, including voluntary unpaid leave for staff up to divisional vice presidents and varying days of compulsory unpaid leave for pilots, executives and associates.

SIA had more than 26 500 employees in its last financial year. – Nampa/Reuters

Citigroup to give some employees US$1 000

Citigroup Inc will provide more than 75 000 employees globally with a special compensation award to help ease the financial burden of the coronavirus pandemic, chief executive Michael Corbat told staff in a memo seen by Reuters.

In the United States, US$1 000 will be provided to eligible colleagues who make US$60 000 or less in base salary, while elsewhere the special award will be based on local market compensation levels, Corbat said in the memo on Monday.

Citi aims to make a "vast majority" of these payments next month.

Employees who are sick, at high risk or unable to work as a result of the outbreak are allowed to take time off without using paid leaves, the memo added.

The bank extended the time frame for the use of carry-over vacation and was also helping with transport needs for employees who have to come in to work. – Nampa/Reuters

Daimler to halt production in Alabama

Daimler is suspending production at its plants in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and Charleston, South Carolina for two weeks starting yesterday, it said.

"Management is monitoring the situation continually and will take further measures if needed. Business will resume once the situation has improved," the German carmaker, which owns the Mercedes-Benz brand, said in a statement yesterday.

Earlier this month the company said it would suspend most of its production in Europe for two weeks in an effort to contain the spread of the new coronavirus. – Nampa/Reuters

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