The Walt Disney Co. will not pay a semi-annual cash dividend for the first half of the fiscal year due to the disruption caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Burbank entertainment and media giant said it would save about $1.6 billion by not issuing the dividend, which was 88 cents a share when previously paid to shareholders in January.
“The board’s action is one of several measures the company has taken in the wake of the pandemic, including reducing capital spending, cutting salaries for senior management, and making the difficult decision to furlough employees,” Disney said in a release Tuesday.
Additionally, Disney announced that it would begin reopening its Shanghai Disneyland theme park on May 11. The Chinese park has been closed since late January due to the coronavirus pandemic although some retail, dining, and entertainment experiences at Disneytown, Wishing Star Park and the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel were re-opened in early March.
“We know how much our guests have been looking forward to returning to Shanghai Disneyland, and our cast is excited to begin welcoming them back,” Disney Chief Executive Bob Chapek said in a statement. “As the park reopens with significantly enhanced health and safety measures, our guests will find Shanghai Disneyland as magical and memorable as ever.”
The company will implement new and enhanced health and safety measures at the park, reflecting the guidance of local health and government authorities. These include limiting attendance with an advanced registration and entry system; controlling crowd sizes at restaurants, rides and other facilities; and increasing sanitation and disinfection measures.
Both announcements were made Tuesday. On Wednesday, shares in Disney (DIS) closed down 18 cents, or a fraction of a percent, to $100.88 on the New York Stock Exchange, on a day when the Dow Jones industrial average also finished down nearly 1 percent and the Nasdaq finished up by half a percentage point.