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Hilton Worldwide Suspending Dividend and Share Buybacks; CEO Foregoing 2020 Salary

By Eric Volkman - Mar 27, 2020 at 6:00PM

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The company's executive committee and its "team members" will also take pay cuts.

Similar to other large companies, Hilton Worldwide Holdings (HLT -0.56%) has announced a new set of drastic financial defense measures it is taking in the face of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus outbreak

The storied hotel operator is cutting what it considers to be "non-essential" costs. These include capital expenditures, in addition to the complete suspension of the company's buyback program and its dividend payouts.

At the beginning of March, Hilton actually expanded its share repurchase program by $2 billion, bringing the total authorization to roughly $2.3 billion. Its latest declared dividend was $0.15 per share, which was to have been paid on or before next Tuesday, March 31. At the latest closing stock price, that dividend would have yielded just under 0.9%.

Facade of a Hilton hotel.

Image source: Hilton Worldwide Holdings.

On the personnel side, CEO Christopher Nassetta won't take any salary for the remainder of this year. The executive committee will all take pay cuts of 50% of their wages until the crisis abates. In the lower ranks, many Hilton employees will see their work schedules reduced, or be furloughed outright for as many as 90 days. Those who aren't furloughed will have their salaries cut by 20% as long as the crisis period lasts.

In a press release on the matter, Hilton explained that "[w]ith travel at a virtual standstill, operations have been suspended across many managed and franchised hotels, and those hotels that remain open have reduced services for guests because of decreased occupancy levels."

On Friday, Hilton's stock price decline was slightly deeper than those of the key equity market indexes and many top stocks; the hotelier's shares fell by 5.5% on the day.

Eric Volkman has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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