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Coronavirus Kent: DP World criticised over $332million shareholders dividends as P&O fights for survival during Covid-19 lockdown

The parent company of cash strapped P&O Ferries has been slammed for honouring a reported $332million dividend payout while the Dover Calais operator fights to survive.

Dubai based DP World is due to dish out the 2019 profits - equal to £270million - on April 29 which the company says it is "legally obliged" to do despite P&O's financial crisis.

P&O Ferries is now running a reduced freight-only service but is losing thousands where the coronavirus travel ban made tourism traffic bookings dry up
P&O Ferries is now running a reduced freight-only service but is losing thousands where the coronavirus travel ban made tourism traffic bookings dry up

It comes as P&O asked the UK government for a £150million bailout last week. It is losing thousands after shifting to a reduced freight-only service and suspending the tourism passenger services in the run up to the busy Easter holidays and summer season.

Workers - 1100 of them furloughed on full pay - were told on Friday that the firm is now "battling for survival" while a cost saving review seeks to recoup money.

It means jobs will be lost from all corners of the operation, ranging from the board to the port, to its ships and its headquarters Channel House.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “P&O Ferries say that no one is going to bail them out. Maybe they should go back to their corporate masters at DP World in Dubai who will pay a $332m dividend to private shareholders on April 29. That would easily cover the £28.4m P&O Ferries want to rip out of the hands of my hard working members and their families."

Janette Bell, chief executive at P&O Ferries told staff the company is battling for survival
Janette Bell, chief executive at P&O Ferries told staff the company is battling for survival

DP World, which specialises in cargo logistics, port terminal operations, maritime services and free trade zones, reported 0.6% profits to $1.341 billion in 2019, compared to $1.333 billion in 2018, according to the company’s financial results for 2019.

Its website reports the 2019 dividend is worth $0.40 US for each share and there

are 830,000,000 shares issued.

A spokesperson for DP World said: “A payment was decided in 2019 and DP World is legally obliged to pay it. It is not reflective of current circumstances.

“We are currently in the process of delisting from the stock exchange and as part of that process we are not allowed to comment on any relevant financial issues.

“We are fully committed to doing everything we can to help P&O to save British jobs, keep vital supplies like food and medicine coming into the country..."

“In this crisis, our main priority with P&O is maintaining the continued flow of goods between the UK and the rest of Europe.

“We are fully committed to doing everything we can to help P&O to save jobs, keep vital supplies like food and medicine coming into the country and keep operating as a business."

He said the problem is too big for one side to solve on its own, so we are all working hard to secure support from all stakeholders totalling just over £250m.

“Some of the support will come from DP World, some will come from cost-cutting and some will have to come from the unions if P&O is to remain a viable business.”

A spokesperson for P&O Ferries said: "In these extremely challenging and unprecedented times, our foremost priority is maintaining the continued flow of goods between the UK and the rest of Europe.

“P&O Ferries transports around 15% of all goods into and out of the UK, including food, cleaning products and vital medical supplies and we are determined to do everything we can to continue operating through this crisis and beyond.

"We have no choice but to look at all options to keep the business working, and that includes an urgent request to the UK Government for funding.

"However, the problem is too big for one side to solve on its own, so we are working hard to secure support from all stakeholders totalling £257.5m to safeguard jobs and the viability of the business, so we can keep critical goods flowing."

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