WWE Initiates Furloughs, Pay Cuts in COVID-19 Response

Plan is to shave $4M from monthly costs; some talent also released
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WWE-SmackDown

World Wrestling Entertainment said it has initiated a string of cost-cutting measures, including worker furloughs and executive pay cuts, in an effort to shave $4 million per month in expenses amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a press release WWE said it has undergone an extensive evaluation of its operations in the past several weeks as the coronavirus has impacted nearly every business segment in the country. As a result, WWE said it would implement several short-term measures to reduce costs and improve cash flow, including:

  • Reducing executive and board member compensation;
  • Decreasing operating expenses;
  • Cutting talent expenses, third party staffing and consulting;
  • Deferring spend on the build out of the company’s new headquarters for at least six months.

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WWE said it also would furlough a portion of its workforce immediately, but declined to say how many workers would be affected. The company added that it believes the furloughs “will be temporary in nature.”

The company also said that it has come to terms with several wrestlers to release them from their contracts, including stars like Kurt Angle, Drake Maverick (James Curtin), Curt Hawkins (Brian Myers), Karl Anderson (Chad Allegra), Luke Gallows (Drew Hankinson), Heath Slater (Heath Miller), Eric Young (Jeremy Fritz), EC3 (Michael Hutter), Aiden English (Matthew Rehwoldt) and Lio Rush (Lionel Green).

“We wish them all the best in their future endeavors,” WWE said in a press release.

The moves, especially the decision to suspend construction on its new headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut,  are expected to improve cash flow by $140 million. WWE said it has substantial financial resources -- including available cash and debt capacity of about $500 million -- to weather the economic storm created by the coronavirus pandemic.

The news comes just a few days after the XFL, the alternative football league that was the brainchild of WWE chairman and CEO Vince McMahon, filed for bankruptcy protection. In those documents, it was revealed that WWE owns a 23.5% interest in the XFL. 

WWE said it would offer further details when it reports first quarter results, expected on April 23.

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