Cineworld has today provided the following update on the evolving impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on business.
The group's entire estate of 787 cinemas in 10 countries has been closed as a result of coronavirus, a situation impossible to imagine a few months ago.
The company stated, 'This has obviously been extremely challenging in many respects and our first priority has been the health and safety of our customers, employees and other stakeholders.
'Every effort is being made to mitigate the effect of the closures, to assist our employees and to preserve cash. These efforts include discussions with our landlords, the film studios and major suppliers, as well as curtailing all currently unnecessary capital expenditure.
'This is a painful but necessary process as before the onslaught of the COVID-19 virus, we were excited and confident about the Group's future prospects. We are also discussing the Group's ongoing liquidity requirements with our RCF banks.
'We welcome the emergency support programmes to protect jobs and business that have been announced in our markets and will access them as appropriate.
'We continue to monitor progress of the Group's proposed acquisition of Cineplex, Inc.'
Given the importance of conserving cash wherever possible, the Board has decided to suspend payment of the 2019 fourth quarter dividend of 4.25c per share and upcoming 2020 quarterly dividends.
Until there is greater clarity on the prevailing circumstances and given the impact of COVID-19 on many of its employees, the executive Directors have voluntarily agreed to defer payment of their full salaries and any bonuses to which they are entitled. Similarly, during this period the non-executive Directors will defer their fees.
The company concluded, 'With very few exceptions, the good relationships we have built up over the years have been supportive and understanding of our efforts and, together with us, our industry partners look forward to the time when we shall again be able to open our doors and provide entertainment and pleasure to our customers.'