After the dubious criticism of the dividends it attracted, both from the public and from politicians, the Fox group is forced to relinquish its state grants for returning workers who were posted to the US during the stores closed due to the Corona eruption. The move is for review, but for "a marked improvement in sales," and for the dividend, "it emphasizes that it will be distributed to shareholders for 2019 profits."
The owner and CEO of Harel Wiesel was one of the leaders of the fashion and trade chain protest that demanded and even received financial grants for closing the business during the Corona crisis.
The group was supposed to receive a grant of NIS 18-13 million, for employees who returned from the foreign exchange and according to Finance Minister Israel Katz's decision to give NIS 6 billion to companies that behave this way towards their employees.
Yesterday, with the release of Fox's financial report for the first quarter of 2020, the group announced a NIS 49 million dividend, a statement that drew harsh comments and criticisms.
Fox announced this morning: "The Company's Board of Directors announces that in view of the marked improvement in sales after the Group's return to operations, the Company waives all state grants.
Fox's response that the company is giving up the grant, "in light of the marked improvement in sales after the group's return to operations," raises concerns that Fox knew about the improvement in sales as soon as the stores reopened after the closure ended. Wiesel also said with the release of the reports yesterday that the group's stores saw a significant increase in sales as they opened.
Following the announcement and in light of the rumors circulating that Wiesel and Finance Minister Israel Katz, who recalls criticizing the dividend today, coordinated the return of the grant, mediated by Wiesel's strategic advisers, the latest message: "In a conversation I had this morning with Katz, As soon as Fox Group returns to activity, we see a significant increase in activity in the Company's operations, we give up every grant from the state, the Minister of Finance welcomed the decision. "
Minister Katz commented very late on the distribution of Fox's dividends and criticized the move: "The decision of the Fox Network owners to draw a high dividend to cover this time of crisis and distress, and all the assistance it and all employers have received for the justifiable purpose of returning workers to grating and contrary solidarity," Katz noted, "I appeal to him to immediately cancel the decision."
This morning, MK Nir Barkat (Likud) also commented on the distribution of the dividend, saying: "The State of Israel should not ask for capital favors. She needs to allocate her money in advance for the benefit of those who really need it. Now 120,000 businesses that are in bankruptcy risk and half a million workers are in danger of being laid off. It's not too late to fix it. "
Attorney Roy Cohen, President of the Israel Independent and Small Business Association's Bureau, commented on the Fox decision: "I welcome the decision of the Fox and Harel Wiesel board to waive grants to encourage employees to return to the economy and call on all companies and large entities that can give up this grant due to economic strength These funds are for small businesses. I urge the Ministry of Finance to allow these funds to be allocated for the benefit of small businesses that were affected by the Corona crisis and did not take out workers in the US and are now not eligible for a state grant. A demanding process of mutual guarantee between large companies and small businesses can be led here, allowing them to survive the Corona crisis. "