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U.S. SEC extends conditional relief for public companies hit by coronavirus

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03/25/2020 | 01:07pm EDT
FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission logo adorns an office door

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said on Wednesday it would extend its prior conditional regulatory relief from disclosure requirements for public companies affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

The extension will apply to filings that would have been due on or by July 1, the SEC said in a statement. The agency said earlier this month it would provide 45-day extensions for filings that would have otherwise been due between March 1 and April 30.

The extension announced on Wednesday supersedes the initial disclosure relief, the agency said. It requires U.S.-listed companies seeking an additional delay to specifically explain why the relief is needed, the agency said. It would also consider providing additional extensions for any legally required disclosures for future periods.

SEC staff said companies should avoid "selective disclosures" related to material impacts of the coronavirus outbreak, but rather broadly disseminate such material information.

Companies should consider whether they may need to revisit, refresh, or update previous disclosures to the extent that the information becomes materially inaccurate, the agency added.

And while companies may have more time to make disclosures, directors and officers should refrain from buying and selling stock until investors have been appropriately informed about any relevant risks, the agency said.

"These actions provide temporary, targeted relief to issuers," SEC Chairman Jay Clayton said in a statement.

"At the same time, we encourage public companies to provide current and forward-looking information to their investors."

Also on Wednesday, the agency said it would grant certain investment funds and investment advisers additional time extensions to hold in-person board meetings and submitting other filing requirements, including annual and semi-annual reports.

By Chris Prentice and Katanga Johnson

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