Coronavirus outbreak battering global economy

NEW YORK (AP) — The outbreak of the coronavirus has dealt a shock to the global economy with unprecedented speed. Following are developments this weekend related to the global economy, the work place and the spread of the virus.

SeaWorld Entertainment is furloughing 90 per cent of its workers because the novel coronavirus had forced the company to close its 12 theme parks.

The employees will be paid through the beginning of next week. After next week, the workers will be off without pay for an uncertain time, the Orlando-based company said Friday in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

SeaWorld’s annual report says that as of December 31, 2018, it employed about 4,700 full-time employees and approximately 12,000 part-time employees. During peak season in 2018, the company hires more than 4,000 additional seasonal workers, many of whom are high school and college students. None of the company’s employees are covered by a collective bargaining agreement.

Victoria’s Secret parent L Brands is joining the growing list of retailers extending their two-week temporary closings as the coronavirus crisis escalates in the United States (US).

L Brands, which also operates Bath & Body Works, said on Friday that it’s extending its initial March 29th deadline but declined to predict when stores will reopen. It also said it was furloughing most of its store workers, in addition to those who are currently not working in the online business or can’t work from home starting April 5 until further notice. Furloughed workers will continue to receive benefits.

File photo shows the entrance to SeaWorld, in Orlando, Florida. PHOTO: AP

Nordstrom said on Wednesday that it would extend its temporary closures in the US and Canada through at least April 5. It also said it would be furloughing a portion of its workforce starting April 5 for the next six weeks. Lululemon CEO Calvin McDonald said it’s expecting its stores in the US to remain shuttered longer than the two-week period in China.

As stores remain closed, retailers will be forced to do more furloughs, which would likely lead to permanent layoffs as they try to preserve cash. Coresight Research, a global research firm, already predicts that 15,000 stores will close this year, setting a new record and nearly doubling its forecast of 8,000 store closings earlier this year.

A satellite-Internet start-up backed by Japanese tech conglomerate SoftBank has filed for bankruptcy, citing failure to secure needed financing as the coronavirus pandemic slams the world economy.

OneWeb, which is also backed by Virgin founder Richard Branson and US chipmaker Qualcomm, announced on Friday that it had made the Chapter 11 filing in New York. The company said it would pursue a sale of the business.

OneWeb said negotiations to fully fund the company through its commercial launch fell apart because of market turmoil related to the coronavirus outbreak. The company said it was petitioning to use its current cash collateral to continue to fund existing operations, as well as negotiating debtor-in-posession financing.

OneWeb said it has reduced its workforce but did not provide details.

The start-up is one of several companies competing in a fledgling industry to send satellites into orbit capable of providing Internet to the Earth’s most remote places.