Outrage in Germany as Adidas and H&M stop rent payments

People walk past an H&M store in Riga, Latvia. (Reuters/File)
Short Url
Updated 30 March 2020

Outrage in Germany as Adidas and H&M stop rent payments

  • Leading companies urged to refrain from taking rash decision that could hurt property owners

FRANKFURT: Global retailers including Adidas and H&M sparked outrage in Germany on Sunday after announcing they planned to stop paying rent on stores that have been forced to close over the coronavirus outbreak.

Finance Minister Olaf Scholz urged leading companies to refrain from taking rash action that could hurt property owners.
“It’s irritating when large companies simply announce a halt on paying rent,” Scholz told the Bild daily, urging retailers to reach out to landlords to find solutions. “Now is the time to work together,” he said.
The retailers’ move comes after the German government unveiled a major rescue package to protect companies and jobs from the economic impact of the pandemic.
It includes a provision that temporarily shields tenants from being kicked out of their homes or business properties if they experience financial hardship over the coronavirus measures.
But Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht warned company bosses not to take advantage.
“It is indecent and unacceptable if financially strong firms now just stop paying their rents,” she said in Berlin on Saturday.

BACKGROUND

● The retailers’ move comes after the German government unveiled a major rescue package to protect companies and jobs from the economic impact of the pandemic.

● It includes a provision that temporarily shields tenants from being kicked out of their homes or business properties if they experience financial hardship over the coronavirus measures.

● Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht warned company bosses not to take advantage.

German sportswear maker Adidas, which made a net profit of nearly €2 billion ($2.2 billion) in 2019, has been hard hit by a slump in Chinese sales and massive store closures.
The Bavarian company, one of Germany’s best-known brands, told DPA news agency that it was “temporarily suspending rental payments, just like many other companies.”
German Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer told Bild he was “disappointed by Adidas,” pointing out that many small, private landlords would be left out of pocket. Swedish clothing giant H&M said it too would not be paying rent on its roughly 460 closed stores in Germany, telling DPA that it had informed landlords and hoped to find “a mutually acceptable solution” soon.
German shoe store chain Deichmann intends to suspend rent and service charges from April for the duration of the government-ordered closures.
A spokesman for the Essen-based company told DPA that it expected those with political responsibility “to compensate for the lost rental income of the affected parties.”
Other German media outlets reported that electronics retailers Saturn and MediaMarkt as well as Adidas rival Puma also planned to halt their rent payments for now.


Lebanon removes banking secrecy rules to fight corruption

Updated 28 May 2020

Lebanon removes banking secrecy rules to fight corruption

  • The move opens the way for investigations into bank accounts of current and former officials such as Cabinet ministers

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s parliament approved on Thursday a law to remove decades-old banking secrecy rules in order to better fight rampant corruption that has pushed the country to the edge of economic collapse.
The move opens the way for investigations into bank accounts of current and former officials such as Cabinet ministers, legislators and civil servants, state-run National News Agency reported.
The restoration of stolen public money in the corruption-plagued nation has been a key demand of protesters who have been demonstrating since mid-October against Lebanon’s ruling elite, which they blame for widespread corruption and mismanagement.
The approval of the law came two months after the Cabinet approved a draft resolution to abolish the country’s banking secrecy laws, which have turned tiny Lebanon into the region’s Switzerland, attracting clients from around the Arab world who prized the anonymity its banks offered.
The new law gives powers to National Anti-corruption Commission and a Special Investigative Committee at the central bank to investigate bank account of officials, the report said.
For Thursday’s session, Lebanese lawmakers convened inside a Beirut theater so that they could observe social distancing measures imposed during the pandemic. Dozens of anti-government demonstrators briefly clashed with riot police outside as legislators met.
As lawmakers in face masks arrived at the theater, known as the UNESCO palace, paramedics sprayed them with disinfectant before they entered, one at a time.
Lebanon has been facing its worst economic crisis in decades, with unemployment figures soaring and the local currency losing more than half of its value against the dollar.
After the banking secrecy measure was passed, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri suspended the session until later in the afternoon when the legislators were to discuss a draft general amnesty law.
The amnesty issue has deeply divided parliamentary blocs, with Christian groups calling for pardoning Lebanese who fled to Israel after it ended its occupation of southern Lebanon in 2000, while former Prime Minister Saad Hariri and others want the release of hundreds of Islamists held as terror suspects.
Lebanon and Israel are at a state of war and some Lebanese who fled to Israel now hold Israeli citizenship. Scores of protesters demonstrated in Beirut and southern Lebanon on Thursday against pardoning those living in Israel.