WHO’S MAKING A QUICK BUCK?
Jeff Bezos, Amazon – $3.4 billion
Laurence Fink, BlackRock – $25 million
Lance Uggla, IHS Markit – $47 million
James Murren, MGM Resorts International (outgoing) – $22.2 million
Jeff Bezos and other top executives offloaded shares just in time before the coronavirus pandemic slashed their company values, saving themselves billions.
Executives at top US traded companies sold around $9.2 billion in shares of their own companies between the start of February and the end of last week, analysis from the Wall Street Journal has revealed.
The quick move to offload shares looks to have saved the executives – who are already among the richest people in the country – billions, as they ditched them just in the nick of time before the markets plummeted.
The analysis estimates that the sales prevented the top bosses losing around $1.9 billion between them, as the S&P 500 stock index plunged about 30% between February 19 and March 20.
Jeff Bezos and other top executives offloaded shares just in time before the pandemic slashed company values, saving themselves billions. Bezoz offloaded $3.4 billion in shares in the first week of February
Laurence Fink, CEO of BlackRock, sold $25 million of his company shares on February 14, saving himself potential losses of more than $9.3 million
Amazon boss Jeff Bezos was by far the biggest seller, offloading $3.4 billion in shares in the first week of February, saving him a staggering $317 million than if he had kept the stock through to March 20.
It also saw the billionaire sell as much stock in that one week as he has in the last year, the Journal reported.
The sale accounted for around 3% of Bezos’s total Amazon shares, and made up over a third of all stock exchange sales during this timeframe.
Laurence Fink, CEO of BlackRock, also acted to offload stock as the US geared up for the coronavirus to reach new heights, selling $25 million of his company shares on February 14, saving himself potential losses of more than $9.3 million.
The boss of IHS Markit, Lance Uggla, also sold $47 million of his shares around February 19, which would by now have plummeted by $19.2 million.
More than 150 top bosses who sold at least $1 million worth of stock in February and March had not sold any stock in the last 12 months, the Journal found.
James Murren, outgoing CEO of MGM Resorts International which like the rest of the hotel industry has been hard hit by the global outbreak, sold $22.2 million of his company’s stock on February 19 and 20, before it fell by $15.9 million.
One month later on March 22, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak said Murren would lead the state’s response to the crisis.
There is no suggestion that the selling of shares by any of the executives was done due to information about the coronavirus pandemic.
However, sales made in this timeframe dwarfed the sales of $6.4 billion made in the same period in 2019.
Top bosses aren’t the only ones who jumped to salvage their own wealth as the mounting pandemic threatened to hit the economy.
It emerged at the weekend that the CEO of the Intercontinental Exchange, which owns the New York Stock Exchange, sold $3.5 million of his own shares just days before the first reported US death from the coronavirus.
Jeffrey Sprecher, the husband of junior Georgia Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler, offloaded the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) shares on February 26 – before the shares plunged by nearly 25 percent.
Sprecher sold the stocks for an average price of $93.42 each, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Sprecher and his wife Loeffler also sold $15.3 million worth of ICE shares on March 11, at an average price of about $87, according to the SEC filings.
Loeffler has been accused of corruption after it emerged that she sold off $3.1 million in stocks in the days after she attended a coronavirus briefing for senators on January 24.
A number of other US senators were exposed last week after they appeared to offload stock while reassuring the public everything was under control.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr sold up to $1.7 million worth of stock on February 13 in 33 separate transactions after offering public assurances the government was ready to battle the virus. His financial filings were first reported by ProPublica.
Burr has agreed to be questioned by the Senate Ethics Committee over the move.
Senator Kelly Loeffler, her husband Jeffrey Sprecher and Vice President Mike Pence in January. Sprecher offloaded Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) shares on February 26 – before the shares plunged by nearly 25 percent
Republican Senator James Inhofe and Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein also sold stock, according to filings, but both said they were not involved in the transactions.
Inhofe said he has divested most of his stock and is not involved in investment decisions. Feinstein’s money is in a blind trust.
While the rich manage to stay rich, ordinary workers across the US increasingly find themselves jobless overnight.
More than 37 million workers could lose their jobs in the short term due to the toll the coronavirus pandemic is taking on the nation’s businesses, according to the US Private Sector Job Quality Index, Cornell University Law School’s project.
A number of US senators were exposed last week after they appeared to offload stock while reassuring the public everything was under control over the outbreak
These shock estimates mean around a quarter of the current working population will find themselves out of work in the near future.
Low-paid, hourly workers are expected to be hardest hit, meaning it is those who can least afford to lose their jobs who face the biggest risk, the research finds.
A staggering 35.2 million low-wage and low-hour jobs, with a weekly average income of under $800, are vulnerable to being laid off right now, compared with just 1.9 million high-wage jobs.
The bleak outlook comes as state shutdowns have been ramping up across the nation, forcing restaurants, bars, retailers and hotel groups to shut up shop and lay off workers, as officials desperately try to slow the spread of the killer virus.
New York City’s iconic Strand bookstore became one of the latest victims this week, as it announced it had been left with no choice but to lay off 89 percent of its workforce after being ordered to shut under state Governor Andrew Cuomo’s executive order.
Meanwhile airline Westjet announced it is letting almost half of its 14,000 staff go to try to stabilize the company during this time.
Workers are hoping the federal relief package which politicians continue to fight over will provide some aid for those newly unemployed.