Covid-19: ZSE shortens trading hours…as listed firms postpone AGMs

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THE Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) has shortened its trading hours as individuals and companies implement social distancing measures to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus.

A number of firms listed on the local bourse have also postponed their annual general meetings (AGMs) due to the pandemic.

As of Friday, there were more than 500 000 confirmed cases and at least 24 000 deaths worldwide, while Zimbabwe had recorded five cases and a single death.

“As we continue to monitor the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak, the (ZSE) is implementing precautionary measures for the safety and well-being of staff, stakeholders and capital intermediaries,” Justin Bgoni, the exchange’s chief executive said in a statement on Thursday.

“The ZSE will be shortening trading hours with effect from 30 March 2020 until the situation normalises.”

The market, which normally opens from 0900 to 1500 hours, will now be opening from 0900 to 1230 hours.

Meanwhile, Ariston Holdings (Ariston), Nampak Zimbabwe and Mashonaland Holdings have postponed their AGMs.

“In light of Covid-19 developments in Zimbabwe, the directors of Ariston hereby advise shareholders and other stakeholders of the postponement until further notice of the seventy-third AGM, which was scheduled to be held on March 31, 2020”.

The exchange has also extended the reporting deadline for listed companies by 30 days due to the coronavirus outbreak, which is now classified as a global pandemic by the World Health  Organisation.

“Issuers whose half-year or full-year financial period ended on December 31, 2019 and are due for publication by March 31, 2020 are hereby granted a 30-day compliance grace period to April 30, 2020. Issuers who, in terms of obtaining statuses, are required to convene shareholders’ general meetings during the same period….” the exchange said.

The Public Accountants and Auditors Board (PAAB) also noted that uncertainty about the immediate outlook for many entities had increased sharply due to the coronavirus. “This has consequences for entities proposing to report results in the coming months, and for their auditors. All financial report preparers and audit practitioners should consider the impact of Covid-19 on interim and annual financial reports arising from this major global risk,” the board said.

“The PAAB is cognisant that various and indeed necessary mitigatory measures against the impact of Covid-19 outbreak may disrupt the business operations of entities and the financial reporting process may also be impacted. Preparers of financial statements and their auditors should proactively discuss these matters to understand whether there is an impact on the entities’ reporting timetable and the audit processes.”

The extension comes as a number of listed firms have already had to delay the publication of their results due to the extensive work necessary to comply with International Accounting Standards for hyperinflationary economies. Comparisons between financial results for the full year ended December 31, 2019 and the previous corresponding period have been distorted by government’s decision to re-introduce the Zimbabwean dollar.

In a statement to shareholders Edgars Stores Limited said the clothing retail would publish results by not later than April 30, 2020 after being granted an extension by the local bourse.

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