After the AFR splashed with the headline “JobKeeper becomes DividendKeeper” yesterday there was quite a pile on against companies receiving large wage subsidies while paying increased dividends to shareholders. And fair enough. The optics are terrible.
The initial focus was on two retailers, Adairs and Nick Scali. Adairs declared a hefty $11.3 million payout to shareholders, along with a tasty $400,000 to chief executive Mark Ronan, and Nick Scali increased its dividend to $3.9 million, most of which goes to the founding Scali family.
But this is an issue which will be market-wide, not just retailers. Yesterday dentist chain 1300 Smiles revealed it would pay $2.9 million to shareholders after receiving $1.8 million in JobKeeper payments.