By Joe Hoppe
CRH PLC said Wednesday that while like-for-like group sales in the first quarter of the year rose 3% and it will pay a dividend, it has postponed the share buyback program until further notice and introduced a range of measures to conserve cash, including cutting senior management and board pay.
The Irish building-materials supplier said that while it had a positive start to the year, the hit from the coronavirus pandemic has been visible since mid-March and its 2020 outlook is uncertain.
To conserve cash and maintain liquidity, CRH has cut the salaries for all leadership teams and board members by 25%, introduced temporary lay-offs and furlough arrangements in affected areas, suspended all nonessential and discretionary expenditure and restricted capital expenditure to essential maintenance levels. The company is undertaking significant cost and restructuring actions, and postponed its 1.8-billion-euro ($1.95 billion) share buyback program, which returned a further EUR200 million of cash to shareholders in March.
CRH will pay its final dividend of 63 European cents a share, and with cash and cash equivalents of $6 billion, said it was positive for the long-term.
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