FCA grants listed companies additional 2 months to publish audited financial statements

Maria Nikolova

Under the temporary relief announced today the UK regulator will forbear from suspending the listing of companies if they publish financial statements within 6 months of their year-end.

As part of a wider initiative, the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is granting temporary relief to listed companies having hard time completing their audited financial statements. This temporary relief will permit listed companies which need the extra time to complete their audited financial statements an additional 2 months in which publish them.

At present, under the Transparency Directive, companies have 4 months from their financial year end in which to publish audited financial statements. Under the temporary relief announced today the FCA will, among other things, forbear from suspending the listing of companies if they publish financial statements within 6 months of their year-end.

The Market Abuse Regulation (MAR) remains in force and companies are still required to meet their obligations concerning inside information as soon as possible unless a valid reason to delay disclosure under the regulation exists. Companies must continue to assess carefully what information constitutes inside information at this time, recognising that the global pandemic and policy responses to it may alter the nature of information that is material to a business’s prospects.

The regulator recognises that some companies, given the nature of their operations, may feel it appropriate to maintain the 4-month calendar, but the FCA would urge all those companies that feel it appropriate to utilise the additional 2 months to do so.

The FCA strongly recommends that listed companies review all elements of their timetables for publication of financial information in order to make appropriate use of the time available within regulatory deadlines to ensure accurate and carefully prepared disclosures.

As FinanceFeeds reported several days ago, the FCA published a statement requesting companies observe a moratorium of at least 2 weeks on the publication of their preliminary statements of account. Today, the FCA confirms that the moratorium can end on April 5, 2020.

The regulator notes that it believes the practice of issuing financial statements earlier than required will add unnecessarily to the pressure on companies and the audit profession at this moment. However, the regulator says it believes that pressure can abate as companies react to the need to re-think and re-plan financial calendars in light of the coronavirus pandemic and the package of measures announced today.

This policy is intended to be temporary while the UK faces the extreme disruption of the coronavirus pandemic and its aftermath. The FCA will keep its application under review.

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