UPDATED: The Morrison government paid more than $1 billion to some of Australia’s largest and most profitable companies last year, an analysis of corporate reports has revealed.
More than 60 publicly listed businesses have disclosed receiving JobKeeper and other government handouts, recording combined profits worth more than $8.6 billion over the past 18 months.
Those companies funnelled over $3.6 billion in dividends to investors since JobKeeper payments began flowing in April. As a whole, they have agreed to pay back just $72 million.
The companies also paid out $20 million in executive bonuses – after receiving millions from the public purse.
The graphic below reveals for the first time the extent to which listed companies have held onto JobKeeper payments despite booking massive profits, and is based on an analysis of financial accounts conducted by The New Daily in February.
TND identified about $1.5 billion in payments to ASX-listed companies from governments around the world last year, the vast majority of which related to the Australian wage subsidy, JobKeeper.
Which companies repaid JobKeeper?
Companies that repaid subsidies in full have not been recorded in the JobKeeper Files. This group includes Iluka Resources, CIMIC Group, and Santos.
Other companies have opted to repay part of their subsidies – either an amount determined by the board as appropriate, or the value of payments to staff who were paid JobKeeper without being stood down.
Companies like Collins Foods and Adairs opted to hang onto JobKeeper payments for stood-down staff, explaining that these payments had no effect on their earnings.
TND found more than $250 million in payments to workers retained on zero hours across these companies, although in most cases businesses did not disclose whether they forced workers to draw down on leave entitlements.
Others such as Nick Scali have returned money received over the December half, but kept subsidies from last financial year.
Some companies, including Integral Diagnostics and Bingo Industries, said they’re still deciding whether to repay taxpayers.
One executive, Steadfast CEO Robert Kelly, told The New Daily he’s an “entrepreneur, not a philanthropist”.
Mr Kelly received a $990,000 bonus last financial year after his company recorded $1.5 million in JobKeeper payments through its brokerages.
All data sourced for this story has been taken from public company accounts, including statutory half-year and annual reports.
All publicity listed companies are required to submit these disclosures to the Australian Stock Exchange.
TND included companies that booked profits, handed out dividends, and/or paid bonuses after taking government payments.
Only dividends paid after JobKeeper started flowing have been recorded in these calculations, irrespective of the period they relate to.
And some calculations include share-based payments where appropriate.
Profits have excluded non-cash impairments and goodwill write-downs, and operating profits have been used in several cases where companies stipulated these results better reflected their operating performance.
In the case of some landlords, notably Vicinity Centres and GPT Group, funds from operations reflect operating performance, minus the impact of large non-cash impairments on property values, which drove statutory losses.
JobKeeper payments themselves were not reported consistently on a pre- or post-tax basis so were unable to be reported consistently with tax impacts included.
Every company in the JobKeeper Files was contacted for comment. You can read their statements here.
This story was updated to reflect new earnings information on March 25.