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Family business philanthropy in the age of the coronavirus

By James Beech

The families behind a British hospitality group, a German automaker and an emirates conglomerate are doing their bit in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic by cancelling commercial rents, providing face masks and donating ambulances.

Fuller, Smith and Turner, the UK’s 174-year-old family-controlled pub and hotel business temporarily closed its entire managed pubs and hotels estate from today until further notice. There have been 5,683 cases and 281 deaths in the UK from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

However, the family business told its tenants it was stopping all commercial rent from this week from all its tenanted pubs in a bid to keep businesses operating and not emerge from the crisis with a “worrisome burden of debt.”

Fullers is chaired by Michael Turner (pictured), a fourth-generation member of one of the three founding families.

Fourth-generation family business owner Mairi Mickel, also a family firm adviser and coach, said Fullers as a family business was just doing what it had always done, “operating with their true values in mind.”

The $108.1 billion Volkswagen Group, controlled by the Piech-Porsche family, will provide 200,000 protective face masks for public health protection. The German city of Wolfsburg, where the group’s worldwide headquarters is based, will also to receive further medical material, the automaker said.

Volkswagen gradually suspended production at its European plants since the beginning of March.

Germany, Europe’s largest economy, has had 18,610 registered cases and 55 deaths from COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has had 198 registered cases.

Khalaf Al Habtoor (pictured), founding chairman of Al Habtoor Group (AHG) donated 50 ambulances to health authorities in the emirates, to be used in the country’s response against the coronavirus. The founding principal of the $12.5 billion group of real estate, hospitality, publishing and automotive concerns allocated a fully equipped building of more than 100 rooms to the Dubai Health Authority (DHA), to quarantine patients. Al Habtoor also pledged to build a specialised laboratory for research on viruses and epidemic control, in collaboration with the DHA and the Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences.

“In the time of a global pandemic, we need to direct all our efforts in identifying and defeating the virus as early as possible and as quickly as possible,” Al Habtoor said.

“I hope our contributions will aid the UAE’s public health authorities’ actions in protecting the safety and well-being of its citizens and residents. The UAE has demonstrated a well thought-out and resilient approach in combating coronavirus, with preventative measures, closures of public facilities and travel control measures.”

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