Rightmove has this morning told its shareholders it is “taking appropriate measures” to shore up the company.
It gives no indication of what those measures are but it says in a trading statement released at 7am today: “In this period of unprecedented uncertainty, we are unable to quantify the impact of COVID-19 on our financial and trading performance at this stage. Accordingly, the group is suspending all existing financial guidance for 2020. The board is confident that the company has the financial capacity to withstand this challenging period.”
It has scrapped a dividend to shareholders and suspended financial guidance on how the firm will perform this year.
Shareholders were to have received a final dividend payment of 4.4p per share for the year ending December 31 but in the light of the Coronavirus crisis, that has been stopped.
In a bid to pacify those with a stake in the company, Rightmove has told them: “The board recognises the importance of the dividend to our shareholders and will consider the timing of the reinstatement of the share buyback programme and the quantum of any interim dividend for 2020 in due course.”
It goes on to say: “The strength of our balance sheet and business model has enabled the board to act quickly to support our customers [the offer to agents] as announced on 20 March.”
A week ago today Rightmove revealed it would slash its charges to agents by 75 per cent for four months.
The portal also apologised for getting it so badly wrong with its deferred payment scheme, which was derided by customers - many of which left the portal in disgust.
A statement from Rightmove to agents at the time said: “I don’t think many of us would have predicted sitting in our offices last week that we’d be where we are today, with the possibility of more restrictive measures approaching. Earlier this week we offered our independent estate and lettings agents a deferred payment scheme to help them through the next few months. The situation in the UK has changed rapidly and we’re sorry that it was too little and now inappropriate for the challenges we all face."
The portal went on to say a week ago: “Instead of offering the deferred payment scheme to independent estate and lettings agents, we're going to reduce your Rightmove bill by 75% for four months, starting from 1st April whether you advertise residential properties, new homes or commercial premises. You don’t need to apply for this discount, your invoice will automatically come through reduced by 75%. To be clear, this is not a deferred payment, this is a discount that you don’t need to pay back.