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Coronavirus – listed companies’ information obligations

Article Corporate | 04/03/20 | 3 min. | Jérôme Brosset Gwendoline Hong Tuan Ha

Healthcare

Apart from its human aspects, the effect of the current coronavirus epidemic has been the closure of certain business areas, resulting in changes to levels of production and consumption which then affect many business sectors such as tourism, luxury goods and transport.

Against this background, the French Financial Markets Authority ("AMF") published a press release on 28 February 2020 in which it reminded issuers of their ongoing information obligations, more specifically relating to their exposure to the impacts of this epidemic[1].

It will be recalled that the Market Abuse Regulation[2] requires issuers (whether listed on a regulated market or on a multilateral trading facility) to publish any inside information concerning them, that is to say any specific, non-public, price-sensitive information concerning their share price, as soon as possible.

Thus, issuers who already have in their possession specific information on the impact on their business of the coronavirus epidemic must publish it in the form of a press release without delay, and it should be noted that the fact that such inside information is due to be published in the form of periodical information shortly thereafter does not absolve issuers of their obligation to publish it as soon as possible. The possibility of delaying such publication must be used with care because it only exists if certain cumulative conditions are met, including the requirement that the delay must not have the effect of misleading the public[3].

In general, the AMF asks issuers to publish information on the impact of the epidemic on their business, their performance or their prospects when presenting their annual results. When doing so, issuers publishing guidance for the market on their anticipated business prospects and performance for the current year must, even in the absence of precise information, indicate the assumptions on which that guidance is based, having regard to the potential impacts of the epidemic.

Finally, the AMF reminds issuers closing their accounts on 31 December 2019 that their annual financial report including their management report must include a description of the main risks and uncertainties facing the company, particularly in view of the coronavirus epidemic. Issuers preparing a global registration document may, if necessary, deal more specifically with the listed company’s financial exposure to this epidemic, and with any measures taken, in the “risk factors” section.

 

[1] https://www.amf-france.org/fr/actualites-publications/communiques/communiques-de-lamf/lautorite-des-marches-financiers-rappelle-certaines-regles-dinformation-qui-sappliquent-aux-societes

[2] Regulation (EU) no. 596/2014 of 14 April 2014

[3] Specifically, if the issuer previously published information that differed from the inside information, delaying publication of the latter must be regarded as involving a risk of misleading the public. Cf. in this respect, AMF Position-recommendation DOC-2016-08 - Guide to ongoing information and the management of inside information.

 


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