Publicly traded hotel firms won’t give back small-biz loans

Business

Three publicly traded hotel companies tied to a Texas businessman said that they would not give back millions of dollars in loans from a government program aimed at helping small businesses.

Facing pressure from the government, several big companies, including the Potbelly and Shake Shack restaurant chains, have said they will return loans they received under the Paycheck Protection Program.

The three hotel companies, Ashford Inc., Ashford Hospitality Trust and Braemar Hotels & Resorts, which are tied to Texas hotel magnate Monty Bennett, have applied for $126 million in loans and received $69 million, according to a calculation from securities filings by The Associated Press. They will use the money to protect jobs, they said in a statement. Since mid-March, the companies and their hotel properties have furloughed or laid off 90% of their workforce.

“Media concerns over our receipt of PPP funds are misplaced. The PPP program was specifically designed to help companies like ours as part of the national objective of shoring up businesses and getting people back to work,” the statement said.

An Associated Press investigationshowed that dozens of publicly listed companies collectively received hundreds of millions of dollars of loans from the program.

The PPP is intended to help small businesses with fewer than 500 employees. Its initial $349 billion in funds ran out last week and the House gave final approval to $310 billion in additional funds Thursday.

The Small Business Administration also issued an advisory Thursday clearly aimed at larger companies that took money, with new guidelines implying that unless a company can prove it was truly eligible for a loan, the money should be returned by May 7.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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