Finance

Overwhelming majority of publicly traded firms have not returned small-business loans: review

More than 80 percent of public companies that received loans through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) have kept the money, according to an analysis by market research firm FactSquared.

Sixty-eight companies - out of 424 that received $1.35 billion in loans - returned a total of $435.8 million after the Treasury Department said any companies that did not need the money had until May 18 to return it, according to FactSquared's review of corporate filings.

About 76 public companies that received PPP loans had enough cash or cash equivalents to cover their operating costs until at least June but have said they will not return the loans, and 22 of those companies received loans of at least $2 million, according to a Reuters analysis

Under the terms of the PPP, applicants for loans were required to certify in "good faith" that "current economic uncertainty makes this loan request necessary to support the ongoing operations of the Applicant."

The revelation of loans going to large or publicly held companies, including Shake Shack, Ruth's Chris Steak House and the Los Angeles Lakers, led to backlash and a call by the Treasury to return any improperly issued loans by last Monday.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has defended the program as fulfilling its intended purpose despite the oversights.

"Any business that has abused the program to gain eligibility should be held accountable," Rubio said earlier in May. The core purpose of this program was keeping millions of Americans from being laid off. And if judged by those standards, then the fact that by the time the second round of PPP is complete, close to 50 million Americans will have a job because of it makes the program an enormous success."

Rubio said in mid-May that while some funds went to public companies, such companies accounted for only 0.35 percent of the program overall.

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