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02 Apr 2020 | 11:09

Robert Walters pulls dividend, cuts costs as Covid-19 hits

(Sharecast News) - Robert Walters has announced it will not be paying a dividend after it moved to cut costs by as much as 15% following the outbreak of Covid-19. The international recruiter said it had a net cash balance of ?74m at the end February and was "well placed" to cope with "future uncertainties".

But the London-listed firm added: "While the impact of Covid-19 continues to evolve, the group has taken a number of pre-emptive actions to manage costs and help mitigate the financial challenges imposed by the virus.

"Since the escalation of the crisis in February, the group has reduced its cost base by more than 15%." It did not provide further details on the cost-cutting, although it added it was now in the process of applying for a number of government subsidies worldwide.

In addition, Robert Walters said it was withdrawing its intention to propose a final 2019 dividend, calling it a "prudent move given the unprecedented period of global lockdown and uncertainty".

White collar recruiters have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic, as lockdown measures close businesses and dramatically slow economy activity.

The update from Robert Walters came as larger rival Hays, one of the world's biggest recruiters, announced an emergency ?200m share issue after suffering a "very material deceleration in client and candidate activity" because of the coronavirus outbreak, especially in Europe and in the private sector. The recruiter, which is largely focused on white collar roles, also warned on profits.

Robert Walters is scheduled to update the City on first-quarter trading on 8 April.
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