CHICAGO — Groupon expects to lay off or furlough about 2,800 employees, in part because of the economic toll the coronavirus pandemic is taking on the Chicago-based deals company.

Most of the terminations should be complete by June, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The company will continue to evaluate its costs, including additional layoffs.

The board of directors has also adopted a shareholders rights plan to defend itself against any bids to take control of the company.

The Chicago-based deals company said Monday the rights plan, commonly called a “poison pill,” has not been adopted in response to any specific takeover bid. Instead, the board believes it will protect shareholders’ interests amid the market volatility caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The “poison pill” will kick in if one group acquires 10% or more of Groupon’s outstanding common stock, or an eligible passive investor acquires 20% or more. The plan expires in 11 months.

If the plan is triggered, existing shareholders can buy shares at a discount, diluting the stake of an acquiring company.

The company, which launched more than 11 years ago with a two-for-one pizza deal at a Chicago bar, was already facing hurdles. It ousted its CEO last month after reporting a disappointing fourth-quarter performance and plans to reduce costs.

Groupon shares were trading at 87 cents Monday morning, down about 70% since Jan. 31.


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