FCA issues bulletin giving coronavirus update
James Barbour highlights bulletin 27 from the FCA which provides a coronavirus update.
The bulletin contains an update on the following in relation to the current coronavirus outbreak:
1. Ongoing disclosure under the Market Abuse Regulation
2. Market volatility and suspension of trading
3. The importance of transaction notifications
4. Delays in corporate reporting
5. Shareholder meetings
6. Corporate transactions and admissions
Focussing, specifically on the FCAs update on items 4 and 5:
Delays in Corporate Reporting
In relation to delays in corporate reporting the FCA recognises that Covid-19 may create logistical issues for issuers when producing accounts for upcoming reporting periods. It does, however, expect issuers to put in place contingency plans to minimise the impact of such issues e.g. consideration should be given as to whether there are non-essential parts of an issuers report and their reporting cycle that they can deprioritise.
The FCA highlights that if an issuer does not believe it is able to meet its continuing obligations it should take appropriate advice and contact the FCA to discuss. Additionally, issuers should also engage with their auditors, who should contact the Financial Reporting Council (FRC), as appropriate.
From the FCA’s perspective, for listed issuers, the deadlines under the Disclosure Guidance and Transparency Rules remain unchanged. It does however note that it will keep this under review and liaise closely with the FRC and the Department for Business, Enterprise and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
Whilst outlining its support for mechanisms that permit the effective exercise of the rights of shareholders, the FCA recognises that as a result of the current coronavirus outbreak, companies may need to employ virtual methods. It highlights that this is particularly relevant in the premium listing category, where various FCA rules require issuers to engage with shareholders on certain matters.