Apr 9, 2020 - Economy & Business

Big business beefs up in era of coronavirus uncertainty

Felix Salmon, author of Edge

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

All companies want to be cash-rich — and as big as possible — heading into an era of extreme uncertainty.

The big picture: Companies raised an astonishing $287 billion through bond issuance between March 17 and April 3 alone. That's more than they raised in the entire second quarter of last year.

Slack didn't raise any money when it went public in a novel direct listing. But being a public company certainly helped Slack this week, when it easily raised $750 million in a convertible bond deal that could end up being as big as $862 million.

  • Slack, which lost $588 million last year and expects to lose money this year too, is paying just 0.5% on the bonds. Investors can also make money if the share price rises above $31 per share.
  • The stock is currently trading just below $25, after rallying from a low point of $15 last month.
  • Airbnb similarly raised $1 billion this week, but because of its industry and its private status, it had to accept much worse terms.

What to watch: Private companies are trying to get big enough to survive through M&A. Often the transactions are mostly or entirely in stock, to help conserve precious cash.

  • See for instance: SoFi buying banking platform Galileo, or Foursquare merging with location-based marketing company Factual. Both deals took place largely using illiquid private stock as currency.

Go deeper

U.S. cities crack down on protests against police brutality

Photo: Megan Jelinger/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Major U.S. cities have implemented curfews and called on National Guard to mobilize as thousands of demonstrators gather across the nation to continue protesting the death of George Floyd.

The state of play: Hundreds have already been arrested as tensions continue to rise between protesters and local governments. Protesters are setting police cars on fire as freeways remain blocked and windows are shattered, per the Washington Post. Law enforcement officials are using tear gas and rubber bullets to try to disperse crowds and send protesters home.

Trump to invite Russia and other non-member G7 countries to summit

President Trump at Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Saturday. Photo: Saul Martinez/Getty Images

President Trump told reporters on Saturday evening he would postpone the G7 summit to September and expand the meeting to more nations that are not members of the Group of 7.

Details: Trump said he would invite Russia, South Korea, Australia and India to the summit, according to a pool report. "I don’t feel that as a G7 it properly represents what’s going on in the world. It’s a very outdated group of countries," he said.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

George Floyd protests: What you need to know

Thousands of protesters march in Denver, Colorado, on May 30. Photo: Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)

Curfews are being imposed in Portland, Oregon, and Cincinnati, while the governors of Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio and Texas activated the National Guard following unrest in the states, per AP.

The big picture: Floyd's fatal run-in with police is the latest reminder of the disparities between black and white communities in the U.S. and comes as African Americans grapple with higher death rates from the coronavirus and higher unemployment from trying to stem its spread.