UK companies 'expect to delay' key results as COVID-19 lockdown pressure shows

Lucy Harley-McKeown
·2-min read
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2021/01/09: A man walks past a 'Stay Home Save Lives' sign in Central London. The posters are part of a government campaign to get people to comply with lockdown rules as Coronavirus cases continue to rise. (Photo by Vuk Valcic/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Companies are in a bind to work out whether they can produce the documents needed amid measures to stem the spread of the coronavirus such as school closures. Photo: Vuk Valcic/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Companies have reportedly said they expect to delay key financial reports, as work backs up due to the disruption caused by new COVID-19 lockdowns.

The heads and accountants of listed companies are in a bind to work out whether they can produce the documents needed amid measures to stem the spread of the coronavirus such as school closures, The Sunday Times reported this morning.

The newspaper said a joint statement from several UK regulators is expected “within days.”

The majority of UK workers have been on stay at home orders from the government for months, with a brief interlude in the summer when restrictions were lifted. Amid the latest national lockdown, people are once again being urged to only leave the house for exercise and essential journeys.

Companies will be under pressure to show how resilient their businesses are to shocks such as COVID-19 and Brexit. A large portion of public companies release year-end earnings in mid-January.

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The Financial Reporting Council did not immediately respond to Yahoo Finance requests for comment. The Financial Conduct Authority declined to comment.

The “Big Four” audit companies, charged with helping to turn out financial results, have been under the microscope in recent months. A series of probes into alleged corruption is set to make suggestions on how the industry might reinvent itself.

The firms have been accused of repeatedly failing. EY, for example, has been accused of failing to warn about suspicious transactions at Danish bank Danske Bank worth billions of euros.

It was also responsible for validating the books of Wirecard before the company became subject to one of the most well-known modern-day corporate bankruptcies.

Meanwhile, PwC had been the auditor of BHS, while KPMG oversaw Carillion accounts and has been heavily criticised for its role.

As for Deloitte, it was fined £15m ($19.7m) in September for serious misconduct after UK regulators investigated its audit of British software firm Autonomy ahead of a disastrous takeover by US tech giant Hewlett-Packard in 2011.

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