Aon PLC, said on Monday it was cutting salaries of its executives and most of its employees, and suspending its stock repurchase program, as it looks to preserve financial flexibility amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a letter to employees, Chief Executive Greg Case said effective May 1, the professional services company's named executives will take a 50% salary cut, while 70% of employees will take a 20% salary reduction.
The broker also vowed not to lay off workers during the crisis.
Case; Christa Davies, chief financial officer; Eric Andersen, president; John Bruno, chief operating officer, and Tony Goland, the company’s chief innovation officer, have agreed to a temporary 50% reduction in their base salary from May 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020, or until another date is determined by the company, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Further, the company’s non-executive directors have agreed to a temporary 50% reduction in their cash compensation during the same time period.
The company said it has also curtailed spending on contractors and third-party vendors and has reduced discretionary expenses not related to client service. Aon said it intends to preserve its dividend. The stock, which was still inactive in premarket trading, has dropped 17.2% over the past three months, while the S&P 500 SPX, has lost 12.5%.
Earlier,Marsh & McLennan CEO Dan Glaser pledged to secure the jobs of all 76,000 global employees in its insurance and risk management, human resources, management consulting and reinsurance brokerage businesses. He also announced a $5 million fund that would offer grants to employees facing financial hardship.
“In Europe, recent reports project 59 million jobs affected, with more than a quarter of all private sector employment in the EU and UK impacted. In Asia, millions are projected to be out of work as China recovers from its first quarter of negative economic growth in over 50 years. In the United States, some project that nearly one third of American workers – nearly 47 million people – could lose their jobs before this crisis ends,” Case said in the letter.
Case said this global lockdown is affecting major sectors of the economy.
“In some sectors, organizations have seen nearly all their business disappear in an instant. Airlines have idled most of their fleets. Hotels are all but empty. Retailers have shuttered their storefronts and resorted to layoffs on a massive scale. Energy companies are pressured as demand plummets. Banks are bracing for a torrent of clients unable to repay debt, with the top 5 U.S. banks alone expanding their loan loss reserves to five times greater than normal,” Case continued.
“Taken together, these trends point to a significant and sustained economic downturn. It’s possible that we’re wrong about the gathering financial storm, but our analysis tells us that we need to act and that presents us with a choice: do we eliminate jobs, or do we find an alternative that protects our colleagues and serves our clients?”
Case said the company is taking these actions to “protect jobs and preserve our ability to best serve our clients” and does so “from a position of exceptional financial strength.”