The week in investor relations: Divergent calls, pay cuts and capital-raising support
– Investment professionals are making sharply different predictions for the stock market as they weigh the economic damage of Covid-19 against huge government stimulus packages, according to Bloomberg. Scott Minerd, Guggenheim’s chief investment officer, said the S&P 500 could fall to 1,500 – another 40 percent drop. By contrast, JPMorgan Chase analysts think the worst may be over for US stocks.
– CEOs around the world are coming under pressure to cut their salaries during the Covid-19 outbreak, noted the Financial Times (paywall). Equilar, a pay consultant, told the newspaper that more than 70 US companies have said executives will see some kind of salary cut. Among British companies, more than 35 companies have so far announced cuts to executive compensation, according to research from the FT and Minerva.
– The UK introduced temporary measures to help companies raise capital, reported Reuters. Companies may need to raise funds to strengthen balance sheets, but the restrictions imposed by Covid-19 make it harder to obtain shareholder approval via meetings. The Financial Conduct Authority said companies can avoid holding a meeting to approve a capital rating if they receive written backing for the move from shareholders.
– Most British insurers decided to cut their dividend payments after coming under pressure from the Bank of England, although Legal & General still plans to make a payout to shareholders, reported Barron’s. The central bank called on financial institutions to cut payments to put them in a better position to support the economy through the Covid-19 outbreak. Britain’s major banks agreed to cancel their dividends last week.
– Jack Dorsey, the CEO and co-founder of Twitter and Square, said he will donate $1 bn to help coronavirus relief efforts, reported the BBC. Dorsey revealed the donation in a series of tweets, explaining that the amount represented around 28 percent of his personal wealth. Other tech founders to make donations amid the Covid-19 outbreak include Facebook’s Mark Zuckerburg and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.
– Regulatory authorities in Singapore granted companies a 60-day extension to hold AGMs, according to The Business Times. Singapore Exchange Regulation, a body that conducts regulation on behalf of Singapore Exchange, and the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority made the change to help companies that may have trouble holding AGMs or reporting on full-year results due to the impact of Covid-19.