May 1, 2020 / 1:38 AM / a month ago

Over 120 listed Chinese firms delay annual reports past regulatory deadline

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - The number of mainland China-listed firms to delay filing annual reports past the regulatory deadline of April 30 has surged to 129, from four the year before, an indicator of the level of disruption that will linger after coronavirus lockdowns end.

The first three months of the year are a busy time for firms with year-end accounts which have to be filed by April-end, a regulatory redline beyond which companies risk fines and stock suspensions.

But a widespread lockdown for all of February prevented auditors from visiting clients or reaching bankers and company officials to make the checks needed to approve client accounts.

Under normal circumstances, a delay in filing could impact a company’s ability to raise funds if it cannot show would-be investors and lenders up-to-date figures. A delay could also damage confidence in the company, pulling down its share price.

But to ease the plight of struggling firms, in early April the CSRC said companies hard hit by the epidemic may delay filing annual reports for another two months.

As of Friday morning, 129 companies listed on China’s exchanges had not published their annual reports, according to data from official website cninfo.com.cn. Of these firms, 49 changed their release date to May, while 75 changed it to June. 

In 2019, only four firms delayed the publication of their annual reports past the April 30 deadline, while in 2018, it was eight.

The revenue of listed firms tanked in the first quarter due to the outbreak, the official Securities Times newspaper said on Wednesday. The net profit of listed firms fell by 18.5%, it added.

Reporting by Engen Tham; Additional reporting by Shanghai newsroom; Editing by Stephen Coates

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