WarnerMedia parent A&T said Tuesday it's set up a new $5.5 billion loan agreement at competitive rates with 12 banks to provide additional financial flexibility to its “already strong cash position.” The loans are pre-payable without peny, it said as it seeks to reassure the markets and employees that it’s on solid ground in uncertain times.
AT&T also noted that it has access to a fully committed $15 billion revolver loan already in place that it has no need or plans to draw on in 2020 – but it’s there in case. AT&T is the latest big media company to flesh out its cash cushion to hedge against the economic risks and unknowns of the coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement, the company also offered a financial update, ticking off its points of financial strength, including a strong balance sheet and attractive liquidity. It said it had about $12 billion in cash on hand as of Dec. 31 and received about $4 billion from selling preferred stock in February. It also completed a share repurchase in March but has nowstopped all share repurchases.
Going forward, the company, which plans to roll out HBO Max next moth, said it expects the following to put it in a good place: • The strength and relevance of core subscription businesses, continued execution on business transformation initiatives, and sizing operations to economic activity will provide cash from operations that will support network investments, dividend payments and debt retirement, as well as the ability to invest in business opportunities that arise as the economies recover. • About $2 billion from the expected closing later in 2020 from the previously announced divestiture of CME, as well as additional proceeds from a number of other real estate and tower sales. • The company expects to close the sale of its Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands operations later this year and intends to use the proceeds to retire an outstanding preferred interest. • Continued access to commercial paper, bond markets and other financing activities which, as in the past, will be utilized as part of normal financing activity based on cost, duration and overall market conditions. • As it has for the past 36 years, the company will pay a quarterly dividend to shareholders. .
AT&T also added that its pension fund requires no cash in the near term and it doesn't expect any required contributions through 2022. The plan has allocated substantially all of the remaining assets to fixed income, preferred securities and other investments which have returns much less impacted by current equity markets.
It also emphasized that it believes its exposure to near term equipment shortages is limited given a geographically diverse supply chain.
Police in Crowley, Louisiana have issued an apology for using the siren heard in “The Purge” to signal the 9pm local time curfew that has been put into effect in the city because of the coronavirus outbreak via NME. The curfew prohibits citizens from leaving their homes between the local hours of 9pm and 6am. The police department said the curfew went into place because the city is located in the state’s Acadia Parish, which has “received the worst rating for the rapid spread of the virus. It has been put into place in order to try and slow the spread.” Police are giving citations to people who violate the curfew. People traveling to or from work must have documentation from their employer.
An alarm used by police at the beginning of the month was the same alarm heard in “The Purge,” James DeMonaco’s 2013 horror thriller about a fictional America where for one night it becomes legal to commit any crimes, including murder, for a 12-hour period. The alarm in “The Purge” is heard to signal that the killing and crime sprees can begin. The first “Purge” film starred Ethan Hawke and launched a franchise that includes three follow-up movies and a series on USA Network.
Crowley Police chief Jimmy Broussard said in a statement to the local ABC news affiliate KATC that he was unaware the signal being used for the coronavirus curfew was the same signal heard in “The Purge.” The chief assured citizens that the “Purge” siren would not be used again. The siren caused enough of a stir that an additional statement was released by Acadia Parish sheriff K.P. Gibson.
“Last night a ‘Purge Siren’ was utilized by the Crowley Police Department as part of their starting curfew,” the statement said. “We have received numerous complaints with the belief that our agency was involved in this process. We were not involved in the use of the ‘Purge Siren’ and will not utilize any type of siren for this purpose. Calls regarding this matter should be directed to the Crowley Police and Chief Broussard and not the Acadia Parish Sheriff’s Office.”
Universal Pictures is scheduled to release the next “Purge” movie in theaters this summer, but the film is likely to be delayed because of the coronavirus. The studio was not involved in the Crowley police department’s use of “The Purge” siren.