Accor says closing two-thirds of hotels over coronavirus

"Our business has been very, very severely impacted" by the global outbreak, chief executive Sebastien Bazin told journalists on a telephone conference

French group Accor said Thursday two-thirds of its hotels around the world will be closed within weeks as the coronavirus obliterates global tourism.

"Our business has been very, very severely impacted" by the global outbreak, chief executive Sebastien Bazin told journalists on a telephone conference. 

He also announced that it will no longer distribute 280 million euros ($304 million) in dividends.

The world's sixth-largest hotel group, which has already closed half its facilities, will allocate a quarter of the planned dividend payout -- 70 million euros -- to a fund dedicated to staff, and "preserve" the remainder.

Just last month, AccorHotels said it had earned a record profit last year, but that was due to a boost from the sale of a stake in its property unit.

The company, which includes the Pullman, Raffles, Novotel and Mercure brands, announced at the time it was returning to the name Accor.

The sale of the real estate stake was part of shift by the company to manage hotels rather than own them.