Coronavirus: Guinness owner Diageo pauses £4.5bn shareholder returns scheme
Guinness owner Diageo has scrapped its financial guidance and suspended a £4.5bn shareholder returns programme after bars and restaurants across the world closed due to coronavirus.
The drinks giant has not scrapped its interim dividend, however it has paused a three-year shareholder returns programme after governments ordered pubs to shut.
Diageo said it had seen a pick up in retail sales at supermarkets after bars and restaurants closed in March.
Last year Diageo approved a programme to return £4.5bn to shareholders over the three-year period to 30 June 2022. Under the first phase of the programme, which ended on 31 January, the company returned £1.25bn via share buybacks.
However Diageo has said it will not resume the payouts during the remainder of fiscal 2020.
In a statement this morning the company said it was “not in a position to assess the impact of [coronavirus] on future financial performance.”
The company previously warned that the impact of coronavirus in the Asian market could result in a £200m hit to profit.
This morning Diageo said there had been a “very slow” return to consumption in China as bars and restaurants gradually reopened.
Diageo chief executive Ivan Menezes :”During this challenging time, our top priority is to safeguard the health and well-being of our people, while taking necessary action to protect our business.
“I am confident in Diageo’s long-term strategy and our ability to move quickly in this difficult environment.
“We will continue to execute with discipline and invest prudently to ensure we are strongly positioned for a recovery in consumer demand. I am proud of the resilience and commitment of our people as they work hard to support our partners, customers and communities.”