Facing public backlash, government warnings and private misgivings, more than a dozen publicly traded companies and big businesses have so far announced that they have returned, or intend to return, small-business coronavirus relief loans issued by the Small Business Administration.
Under the Paycheck Protection Program launched in early April, businesses can apply for loans with their banks to help them shore up payroll and fund essential expenses, such as rent and utilities. If the businesses follow certain rules, such as using the bulk of the funds to keep employees hired and paid, the loan turns into forgivable grants.
Over a million businesses large and small applied under the loose guidelines, which said companies must have fewer than 500 employees and must be able to demonstrate economic injury due to the coronavirus shutdowns.
But after the $350 billion of initial funding started to run dry — and publicly traded companies with more access to funds started making headlines for receiving government assistance while smaller businesses were left out — some companies had second thoughts.
The SBA and the Treasury Department issued new guidance this week, clarifying that the loans were not intended for companies with access to the equity market. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin warned companies last week that they could suffer consequences if they could not certify that they were facing economic injury. Companies have until May 7 to return funds “in good faith.”
On Tuesday, Mnuchin said companies receiving loans over $2 million would be audited, and he warned of potential criminal liability.
Nearly $120 million of the over $900 million received by the 250 public companies that disclosed PPP loans has been returned. Together, the 15 companies have a combined market cap of over $17 billion.
Under the program, the maximum loan is $10 million, based on payroll calculations. Two companies, Ruth’s Chris Hospitality Group and J. Alexander’s Holdings, got more than $10 million because each had two subsidiaries that applied for separate loans.
Description: Specialty pharmaceutical company and maker of Suboxone, an opioid addiction treatment.
Market cap: $139,702,093
Full-time employees: 232
Description: Holding company whose subsidiaries make cinema equipment, projectors and lighting.
Market cap: $23,300,000
Full-time employees: 290
Description: Supplier of cell and gene therapy tools, including design and manufacturing of liquid nitrogen tanks and cryogenic equipment.
Market cap: $229,678,262
Full-time employees: Not disclosed
BK Technologies Corp.
Description: Suppliers of two-way radio equipment.
Market cap: $30,200,000
Full-time employees: 109
Description: Sellers of equipment and systems for remotely monitoring vehicles.
Market cap: $218,274,636
Full-time employees: 882
Hallmark Financial Services
Description: Property and casualty insurers for businesses and consumers.
Market cap: $56,362,819
Full-time employees: 439
Description: Newark, New Jersey-based telecommunications company that offers service and sells prepaid phone cards.
Market cap: $152,360,276
Full-time employees: 1,270
J. Alexander’s Holdings Inc.
Description: Holding company for several casual restaurant chains, including the Stoney River Steakhouse & Grill, Redlands Grill and Lyndhurst Grill steak chains.
Market cap: $66,201,491
Full-time employees: 4,200
Kura Sushi USA Inc.
Description: American subsidiary of a Japanese sushi chain, with over 400 locations.
Market cap: $106,894,657
Full-time employees: 1,400
Los Angeles Lakers
Description: Los Angeles NBA franchise.
Loan: $4.6 million
Estimated value: $3.7 billion
Description: Casual restaurant chain specializing in hot dogs.
Loan: $1.2 million
Market cap: $253,346,932
Full-time employees: Not available
Description: Pharmaceutical company focused on delivering products to treat ear, nose, throat and allergy patients.
Market cap: $195,101,189
Full-time employees: 221
Description: Restaurant chain with nearly 500 locations, specializing in heated sandwiches.
Market cap: $72,096,379
Full-time employees: 6,000
Ruth’s Hospitality Group
Description: Holding company that owns the chain of high-end Ruth’s Chris Steak House locations.
Market cap: $273,802,586
Full-time employees: 5,740
Description: Fast casual chain of made-to-order hamburgers and its namesake milkshakes.
Market cap: $1,912,811,047
Full-time employees: 7,603
Description: Battery and communications manufacturer.
Market cap: $112,523,178
Full-time employees: 573
Wave Life Sciences Ltd.
Description: Clinical-stage genetic medicine company based in Singapore.
Market cap: $300,165,896
Full-time employees: 301
Data source: NBC News analysis of SEC filings, FactSquared, Google Finance, Forbes. Last updated: 4/28 4 p.m. ET.