Request to listed firms

AG Barr delays figures following FCA moratorium


Irn-Bru maker’s results delayed

Irn-Bru maker AG Barr is to delay publication of its annual figures after the Financial Conduct Authority requested listed companies observe a moratorium on the publication of preliminary financial statements. 

The Cumbernauld company was due to publish figures for the year ended 25 January tomorrow (24 March).

But the Financial Conduct Authority has written to listed companies advising them to delay publishing preliminary financial statements in the next few days in order to give reliable information to investors.

AG Barr said it ended the financial year with encouraging trading performance, which continued into the new year.

“We are taking action to ensure our factories are staffed sufficiently and that our production plans optimise the capacity available at each of our sites,” it said.

From a demand perspective, “there are significant challenges for the hospitality sector which in total accounts for c.10% of our business.”

The company has drawn down its full £60m revolving credit facilities as the COVID-19 situation evolved. 

“In addition, we have now frozen all new capital projects and are reviewing all existing projects, as well as scaling back immediate marketing and commercial activity where sensible across the Group.”

Kingfisher has also delayed preliminary financial statements for the year ended 31 January 2020, scheduled to be announced on Tuesday. However, the board said it will not propose a final dividend in relation to FY 19/20.

FCA request

The Financial Conduct Authority said it “strongly requests all listed companies observe a moratorium” for at least two weeks.

It says investors in capital markets rely on trustworthy information on the companies whose instruments they trade. 

“The unprecedented events of the last couple of weeks mean that the basis on which companies are reporting and planning is changing rapidly. It is important that due consideration is given by companies to these events in preparing their disclosures. Observing timetables set before this crisis arose may not give companies the necessary time to do this.

“Listed companies and the audit profession are facing unprecedented practical challenges during the Coronavirus crisis. The FCA believes the practice of issuing preliminary financial statements in advance of the full audited financial statements is adding unnecessarily to the pressure on companies and the audit profession at this moment.”

The FCA notes that the practice of issuing preliminary financial statements is common among UK-listed companies but is not required by either the Listing Rules or the Transparency Directive. 

Rather, the requirement is that companies publish full audited financial statements within four months of the financial year end. The FCA further notes that it is common to publish preliminary financial statements considerably earlier than the four months permitted for the filing of full financial statements.

The FCA confirms it in talks with the Financial Reporting Council and the PRA about a package of measures aimed at ensuring companies take the necessary time in these uncertain times to prepare appropriate disclosures and address current practical challenges and the three bodies intend to announce details shortly.

The FCA reminds companies that the Market Abuse Regulation remains in full force and listed companies are still required to announce inside information to the market as soon as possible unless a valid reason to delay disclosure under the regulation exists.

This statement does not apply to AIM companies which are not classed as listed. Further information on the scope of the announcement is published on the FCA website.

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