Paris (AFP)

The French distribution group Fnac Darty announced Sunday that it had obtained a loan of 500 million euros, of which 70% guaranteed by the State, to "secure the group's liquidity" and "prepare the resumption of activities" affected by the Covid-19 epidemic.

This loan is "the first that the French State grants to a large French company", according to the Minister of Economy Bruno Le Maire quoted in a press release.

"This new funding allows Fnac Darty to benefit from the support of leading French banking institutions, in an unprecedented context of crisis," added the group.

The group also announced earlier than expected the amount of its sales in the 1st quarter, not surprisingly down sharply given the compulsory closure of its physical stores, especially in France, in full containment.

Over the first three months of the year, sales fell 7.9% to 1.49 billion euros.

In March alone, the group's sales plummeted 30%, also said Fnac Darty, noting however that its online sales had doubled in the last 15 days of March and early April.

The group, which had already warned in mid-March that it would not be able to meet its financial targets for 2020, also announced Sunday that it was withdrawing its proposal to pay a dividend of 1.50 euros per share. for the 2019 financial year.

This decision is in line with the injunctions of the government which announced at the end of March a ban on paying dividends for the companies it helps to overcome the coronavirus crisis.

"With more than 20 billion euros in loans granted to 150,000 companies, the deployment of the loan guaranteed by the State is today a reality for French companies, whatever their size," noted Le Maire on Sunday. .

"The state guaranteed loan is a major lever to help them get through this difficult economic period smoothly," he added.

© 2020 AFP