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Consumer group launches website to track all the public companies that got PPP small business loans

Daniel Roberts
Editor-at-Large

The U.S. government’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for small business coronavirus relief loans reopened on Monday for round two with a fresh $310 billion in the chamber, after the first round ran through $349 billion in 13 days

The second round of PPP expressly seeks to prevent publicly traded companies from applying, after a number of large chains qualified the first time around thanks to a carveout that allowed restaurants and hotels to apply as long as they have fewer than 500 employees per location. 

But the public backlash has grown louder, not quieter. Shack Shack (SHAK), which got a $10 million loan, and Kura Sushi (KRUS), which got $6 million, announced they would return their PPP loans, before Treasury came out on April 23 and explicitly demanded that publicly traded companies return their loans by May 7. Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse (RUTH), which got $20 million by applying on behalf of two subsidiaries, and Potbelly Sandwich Shop (PBPB), which got $10 million, have since announced they’ll return their loans. 

Based on reported estimates, between $770 million and $870 million of the first round funds went to publicly traded companies. The SBA said on Monday that about $2 billion is back in the PPP pot from returned loans so far.

LOUISVILLE - OCTOBER 03: Potbelly Sandwich Shop on October 3, 2015 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo By Raymond Boyd/Getty Images)

Now Allied Progress, a left-leaning nonprofit consumer advocacy group that tracks predatory financial institutions, has launched a site listing every public company that received a PPP loan—and the list is more extensive than you might have thought.

The list contains 210 companies and includes each company’s PPP loan totals, 2019 net income, CEO pay, and most recent stock buyback.

Large companies that got PPP small business loans include restaurant chains like Fiesta Restaurant Group (FRGI), parent company of Taco Cabana, which got $10 million, and RAVE Restaurant Group (RAVE), parent of Pizza Inn and Pie Five, which got $657,000; hotel chains like Braemar (BHR), which got $15.8 million, and Red Lions (RLH), which got $4.23 million; and even pharmaceutical companies like Xeris (XERS), which got $5 million, Adamis (ADMP), which got $3.12 million, and Cumberland (CPIX), which got $2.19 million. 

The public company that got the most PPP loan money was Ashford Hospitality Trust, a Dallas-based real estate investment firm that owns 117 hotels and has already received $30 million by applying on behalf of 42 different subsidiaries, and expects to receive more loan money. Ashford Inc., a related company, received $12.8 million.

One man, Monty Bennett, is chairman of Ashford Hospitality Trust, Ashford Inc., and Braemar Hotels, which collectively received $58.6 million in PPP loans. Bennett, the Allied Progress page notes, has donated $200,000 to Trump’s 2020 campaign and the RNC since 2019.

“The more the administration prioritizes aid for well-connected companies over small businesses that haven’t made payroll in weeks and have nowhere else to turn, the longer it will take for the economy to recover,” said Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US Action, the nonprofit parent organization of Allied Progress. “How many mom-and-pop shops got lost in a bureaucratic black hole and had to shutter their doors while millions of dollars were streamlined to big restaurant and luxury hotel chains?”

While pressure mounts, both from Treasury and from the public, Yahoo Finance is tracking all of the restaurant chains that return their PPP loan money.

The $310 billion second round of PPP is expected to go quickly—maybe faster than the first round. Unsurprisingly, SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza tweeted on Monday afternoon, “Unprecedented demand is slowing our system response times. Currently, there are double the number of users accessing the system compared to any previous day during the first round.”

Daniel Roberts is an editor-at-large at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @readDanwrite.

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