The world’s biggest advertising company WPP has pulled its dividend and share buyback and withdrawn its 2020 guidance after the coronavirus pandemic sparked the most uncertain time in its 35-year history, reports Reuters.

The Reuters report added that the owner of “the Ogilvy, Grey and Hill+Knowlton agencies said its actions, along with a cost cutting drive, would save around 2 billion pounds in 2020 to see it through a downturn in client spending.

“Chief Executive Mark Read said fallout from the coronavirus outbreak had been much more rapid than from the 2008 economic crash, hitting different sectors more quickly and leaving many companies with zero revenue and no reason to spend on marketing.”

“This is the period with the greatest uncertainty,” Read told Reuters. “We don’t know yet whether it will be the worst.”

In addition, states Reuters, the pandemic, “which has shut down the global economy with shopping districts deserted, sports fixtures cancelled and millions of people left idle, has come at a difficult time for the company that was founded by Martin Sorrell.

“In the middle of a three-year turnaround plan designed to simplify the sprawling company, trading outside of China had improved in the first two months of the year but that came to an end in March.

“In a sign of what could be ahead, the British company said organic sales had fallen by 16% in Greater China in January and February and while life was slowly returning to normal there, consumer spending remained depressed.”


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