March 18, 2020 / 10:18 AM / 11 days ago

China's Baidu to raise salaries amid virus outbreak - sources

FILE PHOTO: Baidu's co-founder and CEO Robin Li speaks during the World Internet Conference (WIC) in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province, China October 20, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song

BEIJING/SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China’s Baidu Inc (BIDU.O) will raise staff salaries amid the coronavirus outbreak, the search engine company’s CEO told staff in a meeting, two sources familiar with the matter said.

Robin Li also told staff that the company had a cash pile of around 130 billion yuan ($18.5 billion), the sources said. In its fourth quarter earnings report, Baidu said it had a cash position of 135.9 billion yuan.

Baidu did not respond to a request for immediate comment.

The company said last month that its first-quarter revenue could fall as much as 13% from a year earlier citing a hit to its advertising sales due to the outbreak and China’s slowing economy.

Li’s comments come as government efforts to curb the spread of the virus have disrupted supply chains and severely hit consumer demand, causing mounting stress for many Chinese companies, some of which have started to lay off workers, cut salaries or shut down completely.

Reporting by Yingzhi Yang and Brenda Goh; editing by Alex Richardson and Jason Neely

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