Big companies getting Covid wage support in NL, while making profits abroad
Foreign parent companies of businesses that received large amounts in coronavirus wage support in the Netherlands, are paying out hundreds of millions in profit to shareholders. Of the 25 largest recipients of this NOW-scheme, at least the parent companies of employment agency Adecco, truck builder DAF Trucks, and IT company Atos are paying out dividends. For a number of others, it is still unclear whether or not they will distribute profits, NOS reports based on its own research.
In the Netherlands, employment agency Adecco received almost 55 million euros in wage support through the NOW scheme in 2020. At the same time, Swiss parent company Adecco Invest S.A. plans to pay out approximately 365 million euros in profit to shareholders for 2020. The parent company also paid bonuses, according to its annual figures. Neither Adecco nor its parent company would respond to NOS' questions about the matter.
DAF Trucks received nearly 49 million euros in wage support in the Netherlands. American parent company Paccar Inc distributed a converted amount of around 576 million euros in profits to shareholders, and paid out bonuses, according to NOS. Paccar Inc did not respond to the broadcaster. DAF Trucks told NOS that the wage support received remained in the Netherlands and is used to maintain employment. The company said it understands why its American parent decided to pay out profits. "Shareholders' confidence in the company is important and that includes a stable dividend policy," a spokesperson said to NOS.
IT company Atos received over 22 million euros in wage support in the Netherlands. French parent Atos SE will pay out approximately 97 million euros in profit to shareholders for the 2020 results. That amount will be paid out later this year. A spokesperson emphasized to NOS that the parent company did not pay a dividend during 2020 due to the coronavirus crisis. She also said that in 2020, the top management took a 30 percent pay cut for three months, and that the NOW support ensured that there were no forced redundancies in the Netherlands.
According to the broadcaster, it is still unclear whether Air France-KLM, parent of KLM that received about 851 million euros in wage support, Tata Steel (77 million euros in wage support), and security company I-Sec Nederland (19 million euros in wage support) will pay out dividends, pay out bonuses and buy back own shares with their 2020 results. The three companies told NOS that their annual report will be published at a later date.
According to NOS, government documents it previously requested showed that the Dutch government initially wanted to ban foreign parent companies from paying out dividends if their Dutch branch received wage support from public money. But after pressure from the business community, the Ministry decided against the ban, worrying that it would come at the expense of employment. That means that Adecco Invest S.A., Atos SE, and Paccar Inc officially did not do anything that wasn't allowed.