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June 5, 2020, 4:56 a.m. EDT

Airlines, retailers, even German companies — the businesses borrowing billions in coronavirus loans from the Bank of England

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By Callum Keown


Getty Images
Midday at the Royal Exchange building in front of the Bank of England.

Struggling airlines, troubled retailers, embattled car manufacturers and even a Premier League club have borrowed hundreds of millions of pounds in emergency funding from the Bank of England.

The central bank published a list of companies on Thursday that have received funding from its Covid Corporate Financing Facility, designed to support larger companies through the coronavirus pandemic. Despite being a U.K. scheme, German chemicals giant BASF HU:BASF +1.21%  was the largest recipient of funding, borrowing the maximum £1 billion offered by the central bank.

The facility, set up by the BoE and the U.K. government in March, purchases short-term debt in the form of commercial paper issued by companies that make a “material U.K. contribution.” The bank has so far disbursed £16.2 billion through the facility to 53 businesses, it said.

BASF topped the list, while its fellow German competitor Bayer /zigman2/quotes/210533053/delayed DE:BAYN -0.50%  borrowed £600 million, the second highest sum. The BoE said overseas companies that generate “significant revenues” in the U.K. or serve a large number of U.K. customers were also eligible for the scheme.

Struggling airlines also made use of the scheme, with easyJet /zigman2/quotes/202825892/delayed UK:EZJ +3.15%  and Ryanair /zigman2/quotes/206299452/delayed XE:RY4C +2.86%  both borrowing £600 million, and British Airways /zigman2/quotes/208070069/delayed UK:IAG +2.11%  and Wizz Air /zigman2/quotes/210449062/delayed UK:WIZZ +0.78% receiving £300 million, according to the Bank of England data. All four carriers have announced job cuts in recent months amid the coronavirus crisis and its impact on the sector.

The knock-on effect of global travel restrictions was also evident as jet-engine supplier Rolls-Royce /zigman2/quotes/203646520/delayed UK:RR +0.34%   borrowed £300 million and hotel chain Intercontinental Hotels Group /zigman2/quotes/202865596/delayed UK:IHG +1.63%  received £600 million from the central bank.

The retail sector, which has struggled due to store closures and falling demand, was also heavily represented on the list. Marks & Spencer /zigman2/quotes/206225481/delayed UK:MKS +2.47%   borrowed £260 million , department-store chain John Lewis and luxury-goods company Burberry /zigman2/quotes/205386705/delayed UK:BRBY -0.53%  received £300 million, and £100 million went to online fashion retailer Asos /zigman2/quotes/209092221/delayed UK:ASC +1.82%   /zigman2/quotes/204466627/composite ASOMY +1.90% .

Some of the car industry’s biggest players have also utilized the emergency funding. British new-car sales slumped 89% last month in the weakest May since 1952, with sales down 51% in the first five months of 2020, according to Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) data published on Thursday. Just 197 cars were produced in the U.K. in April. Nissan /zigman2/quotes/208298710/delayed JP:7201 +2.88%   has borrowed £600 million and Toyota /zigman2/quotes/203803129/delayed JP:7203 +2.14%   /zigman2/quotes/200537742/composite TM +1.78%  borrowed £365 million, the BoE said.

English Premier League football club Tottenham Hotspur also featured in the list after taking out a £175 million loan. The league is set to resume match play on June 17 but without fans in the stands. The north London club said revenue losses from match days, conferences and live events at its new stadium could hit £200 million, adding that the BoE loan would not be used to buy players.

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Ft 18,800.00
+224.00 +1.21%
Volume: 16.00
May 20, 2022 12:00a
P/E Ratio
9.59
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6.94%
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DE : Germany: Frankfurt
63.24
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N/A
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N/A
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XE : Germany: Xetra
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N/A
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N/A
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Callum Keown is a Barron's Group reporter for the Europe, Middle East and Africa region. He writes for MarketWatch, Barron’s, Penta and Financial News.

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