Questions and answers relating on delaying annual company accounts and half yearly financial reports during the coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis.
Does the extension of the deadline for publishing annual and half yearly financial reports (temporary relief) apply to all listed companies?
This temporary relief applies to all listed companies that are required to comply with DTR 4.1 and DTR 4.2 (noting the exemptions under DTR 4.4) but we note that some companies may also be subject to transparency rules in other jurisdictions.
Does this affect companies that are admitted to unlisted markets in the UK such as AIM or the Aquis Stock Exchange?
This temporary relief is only relevant to companies’ subject to DTR 4.1 and DTR 4.2. This does not include those with securities admitted only to markets that are not regulated markets under MiFID – such as AIM or NEX Growth.
Does the extension apply to listed companies that are not already required to comply with the transparency rules?
For the avoidance of doubt, we will also give temporary relief from taking action against companies that are subject to the requirement to publish annual financial reports or half yearly financial reports via other Listing Rules (LR 9.2.6BR, LR 14.3.23R, LR 18.4.2R and 18.4.3R).
Does the extension apply to companies that only have listed debt securities?
This depends on whether the securities are admitted to trading on a regulated market:
- If the debt securities are admitted to trading on a regulated market the temporary relief applies.
- If the debt securities are not admitted to trading on a regulated market, the companies are not subject to DTR 4.1 or DTR 4.2. They are subject to LR 17.3.4R which requires the issuer to approve and publish its annual report and accounts within 6 months of the end of the financial period to which they relate. Therefore, the issuer’s existing requirements already permit a 6 month period for publication.
How are these measures being achieved?
This is not a waiver or rule change. We are able to exercise forbearance in circumstances where it deems this appropriate. We deem the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing challenges facing listed companies and their auditors as sufficient grounds to exercise the forbearance necessary to achieve the desired outcome.
Under what circumstances does the FCA suspend listing of securities?
We are able to impose a unilateral suspension of the listing of any securities if the smooth operation of the market is, or may be, temporarily jeopardised or it is necessary to protect investors (section 77 FSMA and LR 5.1.1R).
The Listing Rules include examples of when we may suspend listing of securities and this includes situations where an issuer has failed to publish financial information within the appropriate timescale.
Do listed companies still have to produce Preliminary Statements of Accounts?
Preliminary Statements of Accounts (or prelims) are permitted by Listing Rules but are not required by these rules as they stem from established market practice rather than the regulation. In the event that premium listed companies wish to continue to produce prelims then the applicable rules will still apply (LR 9.7A.1). However, we would strongly urge all listed companies to consider whether timetables and practices for financial reporting that were set prior to the coronavirus pandemic continue to be appropriate in the current circumstances.
Does this cover half yearly financial reports (interims)?
This temporary relief was extended on 27 May 2020 to allow an additional one month for issuers to publish half yearly financial reports (interims) which should normally be published within 3 months of the half year end in accordance with DTR 4.2.
Have the reliefs been affected as a result of the UK leaving the EU?
The reliefs and the obligations they relate to have not changed. The reliefs remain available to those companies that are subject to DTR 4.1 and DTR 4.2 in FCA’s Handbook.
However, the scope of the companies that are subject to DTR 4.1 and DTR 4.2 has changed post-exit, and some companies will no longer be subject to our rules as a result.
It is the responsibility of issuers to comply with other legislation to which they are subject in their own jurisdiction or elsewhere.
How long will the reliefs be available for?
Our temporary relief for delayed publication of financial reports will, at a minimum, continue to be available to listed companies with financial periods ending before April 2021. When we decide to bring any of these measures to an end we will give companies notice so they have time to plan for the change.