Yesterday the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) announced that it will extend financial reporting deadlines for both listed and unlisted entities that lodge financial reports under Chapters 2M and 7 of the Corporations Act by one month. The one-month extension applies to reporting dates up to and including 7 January 2021 where the reporting deadline has not already passed.

The additional relief comes as entities continue to deal with the challenges arising from the pandemic, such as delayed reporting processes, working-from-home arrangements and travel restrictions.

Where possible, entities should continue to lodge financial reports within the normal statutory deadlines, taking into account the information needs of relevant stakeholders.

Under the relief provided, unlisted entities will be able to lodge financial reports for year ends from 31 December 2019 to 7 January 2021 one month later than usually required. Listed entities will also get an additional month to lodge full-year and half-year financial reports for balance dates from 21 February 2020 up to and including 7 January 2021. The relief will not apply to registered foreign companies.

Listed entities will be required to inform the market when they take advantage of the extended reporting deadline. It is also encouraged that such entities explain the reasons for relying on the relief.

Grandfathered proprietary companies that make use of the deadline extension relief will retain their grandfathered status. However, the directors’ report must disclose the fact that ASIC relief has been applied to report to members no later than one month after the normal reporting deadline.

In terms of Annual General Meetings (AGM), ASIC continues to adopt a ‘no action’ position where public companies do not hold their AGMs within five months after financial years that end from 31 December 2019 to 7 January 2021, but do so up to seven months after year end. This no action position also gives those companies that rely on the one-month lodgement relief described above additional time to distribute financial reports to members prior to the AGM.

For reporting periods ending after 7 January 2021, ASIC will continue to monitor how market conditions and COVID-19 are affecting financial reporting and AGM obligations. The media release notes that there is no indication at this stage that further extensions will be necessary.

For more details, please click here for the full media release.