British companies mothball results after regulators call for delay

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© Reuters. Commuters walk through Canary Wharf in London© Reuters. Commuters walk through Canary Wharf in London

By Simon Jessop and Huw Jones

LONDON (Reuters) – British companies including home improvement group Kingfisher (L:) said they would delay full-year results for at least two weeks, heeding a call from the financial markets regulator on Saturday.

Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority said listed companies planning to report over the next few days should hold off so that they could better assess how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting their business.

Kingfisher said it had received a letter from the FCA on Sunday requesting a delay to the results announcement, which had been due on Tuesday. The company said it would provide further updates “as soon as we are advised by the FCA”.

Meanwhile, A.G. Barr also said it felt it was “prudent” to draw down its full 60 million pound revolving credit facilities as the coronavirus pandemic continued.

Others to act on Monday included outsourcer Mears Group (L:) and energy engineering company Lamprell (L:).

The Financial Reporting Council, which polices accountants that check the books of listed companies in Britain, said on Monday it backed the FCA’s decision and that auditors could broaden their approach to delays in company financial statements as the situation “rapidly” evolves.

“It is important that due consideration is given by companies to these events in preparing all reporting,” the FRC said.

“The FRC therefore encourages listed companies and their auditors to consider carefully whether they should delay other corporate reports for the next two weeks, such as interim financial statements and final audited financial statements, except where necessary to meet a legal or regulatory requirement,” the watchdog said in a statement.

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