While people reunite with their families and friends and spend more time communicating during the big dramatic pause that has happened on the planet, the business of the biggest companies depends on offline activities and consumer behavior is attempting to save the situation.
Such American giants as GM, Ford and Tesla have declared their intention to shift their production to developing ALV equipment. Furthermore, Elon Musk has made an executive decision to purchase over 1000 AVL units and plans to give them away to the hospitals.
Today, many fashion brands have started producing masks, whereas Chinese billionaire Jack Ma has already sent millions of masks to different countries around the world.
Bill Gates has shown his empathy for the situation in the form of the donation of USD 100 bn. for vaccine development. Following this example, Mark Zuckerberg refused to remain on the sidelines and added USD 25 bn. for the same purpose.
On the East side of the world, Russian digital Mail.ru Group along with the financial company Alfa Capital donated USD 13 m. each, while Nornickel invested USD 26 m. in the battle against the pandemic.
Pandemic Builds New Bridges and Ruins Others
Just two days after the presidents of the USA and Russia had a phone conversation on March 30th, a Russian military plane landed in the States with tons of cargo containing medical equipment and supplies on board.
Being second place in the world by number of infected after the States, and considering its much smaller territory, Italy also received help from Russia in the form of seven military planes loaded with medical supplies and equipment.
Even though the tragedy is uniting most people and nations, there is always another side of the coin.
Not every company is fortunate to such an extent as Microsoft, Tesla or Facebook to be able to afford such generous donations to fight the COVID-19 and they are about to take opposite measures in order to stay alive in the market. Primarily, there is a trend of cutting dividends down this year, started by such leading companies as Delta Airlines, Boeing, Carnival cruise lines, AT&T, and Macy’s together with such banks as HSBC and Standard Chartered. However, there are some other examples of companies who look at Russia and desire a piece of pie instead of appreciating its contribution in a common drama.
Yet, Russian authorities do not always receive support from businesses in response. Although some national businesses are focusing on confronting the consequences of the virus within the country and abroad by contributing with their resources, other big western players that presumably control Russian industries from abroad are trying to take advantage of this chaos by using their influential positions. As a result, the latter group wants to play a double game—keep their dividends without real grounds for them and invest these funds into ambiguous programs.
Oleg Deripaska, one of the key stakeholders of Nornickel (27.8%), declined a suggestion to freeze dividends justifying this decision by the big loans (USD 600 m.) of its Rusal company, which could be easily covered by the dividends for 2019 comprising USD 1.1 bn. Yet, considering the fact that the controlling interest of Rusal belongs to En+ Group and Glencore, Russian journalists along with society have raised many questions regarding the possibility of Nathan Rothschild and Ivan Glazenberg impacting on the decision of Deripaska.
It’s also interesting to note that at the end of March 2020, Lord Greg Barker, the chairman of the board of directors of En +, expressed his doubts regarding the possibility of paying dividends to the stakeholders “if nothing will be improved in the market.” This fact leads to the possibility of using Russian dividends to cover the financial gaps of Rothschild and Glazenberg. Ethical business is evidently not always the case even when facing a common threat.
At the same time, it was Interros, another key stakeholder of Nornickel, who suggested freezing the dividends in this year and creating a cash reserve fund for the company in order to have a backup plan before a global recession hits.
As a matter of fact, people are becoming more aware and open-minded nowadays; they review their beliefs and core life principles all over the globe. No one knows what tomorrow will bring to relations between West and East. Since any economic or social system is like a set of bricks, if one continuously takes bricks out, one at a time, the risk of collapsing the entire system is very high.
Some people reveal their true colors and value in the face of a pandemic and choose to help society, whereas others are focus solely on their gains.