April 22, 2020 / 12:00 PM / 2 months ago

Hit by coronavirus? Come clean, Singapore bourse tells companies

FILE PHOTO: A view of an empty Merlion Park, as tourism braces for a steep decline following the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) along Marina Bay in Singapore, March 26, 2020. REUTERS/Edgar Su

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore Exchange’s (SGXL.SI) regulatory chief called on listed companies to provide “prompt and high quality” information on the impact of the novel coronavirus on their business or risk a loss of investor confidence.

SGX RegCo’s CEO Tan Boon Gin gave the guidance in a column on Wednesday, just as Singaporean companies begin issuing quarterly results that will reflect the impact so far of the coronavirus pandemic.

In his remarks, Tan said “reliance on broad-stroke explanations pinned on a decline in general economic activity to explain away their outlook would be deemed inadequate and of little utility to their shareholders”.

Instead “prompt and high-quality information” would benefit both issuers and investors, he said.

“If issuers do not come clean, investors will assume the worst. In today’s market, the consequences of late or poor-quality disclosure could be dire,” he said.

With more than 2.54 million cases reported and 177,000 deaths, the coronavirus outbreak has forced many countries to go into lockdown, disrupting global supply chains and debilitating the global economy.Tan said boards and auditors of companies should increase vigilance on the possible effects of global developments on companies’ finances.

“This includes a review of the effectiveness of internal controls, including close scrutiny on high-risk areas such as cash balances and accounts receivables,” he said.

Since Feb. 7, SGX-listed companies no longer need to issue quarterly reports, in line with practices in markets including Hong Kong, Britain and the European Union.

Companies listed on SGX now only need to file semi-annual reports unless they have issues such as regulatory concerns, in which case they still have to post quarterly results.

Reporting by Anshuman Daga; editing by Barbara Lewis

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