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French retail giant FNAC Darty gets €500 million state-backed loan

Fnac-Darty is the first major company to benefit from a French government-backed loan aimed at economic recovery following the coronavirus crisis.
Fnac-Darty is the first major company to benefit from a French government-backed loan aimed at economic recovery following the coronavirus crisis. JOEL SAGET AFP/Archives

Electronics retail giant Fnac Darty announced on Sunday it had secured a €500 million loan guaranteed by the French state "to secure cash flow" and prepare for recovery after the coronavirus crisis.

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Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said the guaranteed €500 million facility was "the first that the French state has granted to a major French company" to help it over the crisis.

The group reported "very strong growth in e-commerce, in all countries, during the lockdown" but in the first quarter of the year revenue plunged 7.9 percent on a reported basis to 1.49 billion euros.

With stores closed sales fell 30 percent in March, a statement said.

However e-commerce doubled over the last half of March and the first days of April.

The group had warned in mid-March it would not meet its minor growth targets and on Sunday withdrew proposed dividends for 2019 -- in line with government demands.

"With more than €20 billion in loans given to 150,000 companies, the deployment of the state guaranteed loan is a reality for French companies, whatever their size," Le Maire added.

"The state-guaranteed loan is a major lever to help them overcome this economically difficult period without trouble."

Fnac Darty's one-year loan supported by French banks has a five-year extension option.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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