Perspectives

In the loop: updates on COVID-19

Updates by the Brunswick Paris Office

Five things you need to know today

  1. . Deal reached in the US on $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill (Axios)

  2. Dow Jones surges 11% in best day since 1933 (WSJ)

  3. Economists fear downturn will be worse than Great Recession (The Hill)

  4. France's death toll tops 1,000, lockdown to be extended (France 24)

  5. US has the potential to become the global epicenter of COVID-19 (Reuters)

 

CORPORATE

Headline: French Government will roll out a €4bn liquidity support plan for start-ups in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. The plan will include a short-term refinancing scheme, the early payment of some tax credits, the accelerated payment of already-planned investments in the sector and guarantees over cash flow costs. (Reuters)

Also in the news:

  • M&A: The pandemic is reportedly casting doubt over the merger between PSA and Fiat Chrysler, whose initial financial terms will need to be reviewed (Dow Jones)
  • Automotive: French mutual fund Fonds Stratégique de Participations (FSP) has built a stake of 4% in French car equipment maker Valeo and will get a seat on its board of directors (Reuters
  • Banks: JPMorgan plans a firm-wide hiring freeze and will delay bringing new recruits into the bank until April 20 but will pay new hires from their original start dates. (Bloomberg). 
  • Healthcare: US carmakers General Motors and Ford, which closed their plants until the end of March, announced partnerships with GE Healthcare, 3M or Ventec Life to mass-produce artificial respirators. (Les Echos
  • Financial Services: Bank of America told its traders that they can execute orders from home following employee backlash over the number of people still working at the bank’s New York headquarters. (FT)
  • Dividends: CFDT, the leading trade union in France, demands that companies pay no dividend in 2020. (Press Release)

FINANCE

Headline: Nike reported better-than-expected results for its fiscal third quarter (closing on 29 February), thanks to a jump in e-commerce sales. The group stated that it was starting to see recovery in China. (Press release)

Also in the news:

  • AGM: Truck maker AB Volvo has decided to postpone its AGM to June 30th due to the prevailing uncertainty around the effects from the global COVID-19 outbreak. (Press release)
  • Liquidity/Guidance: General Motors announced that it intends to draw down approximately $16bn from its revolving credit facilities. The company is also “suspending its 2020 guidance due to uncertainty around the business impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.” (Press release)
  • URD filing and Covid update: Imerys expects the coronavirus outbreak to cause a drop in activity but said it was taking all measures to preserve profitability, liquidity and financial structure (Press release)
  • FY results: SMCP issued strong FY 2019 results but warned that Q1 sales would be down by slightly more than 20%. Liquidity said to be secured to face the crisis. (Press release) 
  • Guidance: Several companies suspended their guidance including Ipsen (Press release), Lagardère (Press release) and Nexans (Press Release)

 

REGULATORY

Headline: Working hours, short-work system, paid holidays, extended unemployment benefits... French labor law is being superseded by ordinances. Three texts to amend the law during the coronavirus crisis are presented at today’s Council of Ministers. Rules on working hours and paid holidays will be reviewed. (Le Monde)

Also in the news:

  • The French government launches the state-guaranteed loan to support companies faced with cash-flow challenges linked to the coronavirus crisis, for which the state will make available €300bn. (Ministry of Economy website + La Tribune
  • The Eurogroup’s Finance Ministers agreed on the principle of implementing the European Stability Mechanism but didn’t reach a consensus on the precise conditions for accessing the €410 billion fund, which will be left to the heads of state and government to decide on Thursday. No consensus either on "Coronabonds". (European Council website and Le Monde)
  • The French National Assembly will set up an investigating committee on the management of the coronavirus epidemic, chaired by the President of the National Assembly, Richard Ferrand, and including the heads of all political groups. (AFP)

DOING GOOD 

Initiatives to combat the outbreak are multiplying and pushing the frontiers of innovation.

A selection: 

  • Decathlon made the headlines after it emerged that the French sportswear company was working with engineers from an Italian research institute to convert its line of snorkeling masks into emergency ventilator masks. (The New York Times)
  • The healthcare unit of French industrial gases company Air Liquide announced that it would ramp up by at least 50% its production of ventilators needed by hospitals to deal with the coronavirus outbreak. (Reuters
  • Airbnb announced that landlords who make their empty apartments available to care staff and social workers via their platform would be offered compensation. (Le Figaro
  • Facebook and Apple have pledged to donate millions of masks to help healthcare workers, via respective Facebook and Twitter announcements from their CEOs. The CEO of Tesla, Elon Musk, also indicated in a tweet that he had acquired more than 1,000 ventilators from China last week and arranged for them to be air-shipped to Los Angeles. (Bloomberg
  • Unilever announced a wide-ranging set of measures to support global and national efforts. It will contribute €100m to help the fight against the pandemic through donations of soap, sanitizer, bleach and food. (Company Website
  • French oil and gas company TechnipFMC indicated that it would donate over 10,000 masks to health professionals fighting the pandemic. (Press Release
  • Football clubs have also contributed to tackling the outbreak, with Paris Saint Germain announcing that it had made a 100,000 euro donation to NGOs (Secours Populaire Français) and Bayern Munich's players and senior staff taking a 20% pay cut to help pay for staff in other areas of the club during the outbreak. (PSG Press Release; 90min)

BRUNSWICK’S PICKS 

  • Will Big Tech survive the coronavirus? (New York Times
  • Denmark’s idea could help the world avoid a Great Depression (The Atlantic)
  • In the crisis, listen to what goes through us (Les Echos
  • Africa is unprepared: Drop the tariffs and save some lives (FT
  • Is Covid-19 a geopolitical game-changer? (Michel Duclos’ blog/Institut Montaigne
  • What it looks like from space when everything stops (Bloomberg)
  • From cover-up to global donor: China’s soft power play (FT)
  •  Prince Charles tests positive but 'remains in good health' (BBC)

This is a newsletter written by the Brunswick Paris teams to provide you with the most relevant information and news on COVID-19.