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COVID-19 - Impact on Financial Sector - 27 March 2020


Please find below a summary of COVID-19 developments relevant to our clients; these alerts are dedicated to following up on the financial  regulators’ responses to the crisis. We have also created a COVID-19 Resource Center to offer legal and business insights as this crisis continues to evolve. We wish you and your loved ones well.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact: 

Tom Van Dyck
+32 475 90 90 91

Freya Mareels 
+32 475 25 11 50

Wim Dedecker
+32 491 36 03 99



NBB, Assuralia and federal government conclude agreement to mitigate the socio-economic impact of the corona crisis

The agreement reached by Assuralia, which was co-facilitated by the NBB (with the support of the FSMA) and the federal government, provides that insurance companies will deal flexibly with customers in need while ensuring that they are permanently protected.

The agreement’s focus is on those groups in society that feel the economic impact of the coronavirus most strongly, namely the many workers who have fallen into temporary unemployment and the companies that are obliged to close down or see their economic activity sharply reduced.

Among others, the agreement provides for:

  • ‘Breathing space’ for those who are struggling with payment problems;
  • Relief for those who have to repay mortgage loans;
  • An arrangement concerning the outstanding balance insurance and fire insurance.

FSMA - COVID-19 impact on listed companies

The FSMA has set out its position on the questions it has received in recent days. Please find a summary below.

Regarding the publication of inside information:

  • The FSMA asks issuers to communicate as soon as possible any event, decision or information they have become aware of and that is likely to constitute inside information that relates to them directly.
  • When it is not possible for the issuer to quantify immediately the impact of such information on the financial situation of issuers, the issuer should indicate in its press release that, given the situation, it is unable at this stage to quantify the financial impact of the inside information, but that it undertakes to communicate about that impact as soon as the latter can be calculated.
  • The FSMA asks issuers that publish an annual communiqué to include in it a paragraph about the current and expected impact of COVID-19 on their activities and their financial situation. The limitations to the ability to quantify this impact also apply. The FSMA takes the view that issuers who will not be impacted should state this explicitly.

Regarding the publication of the annual financial report:

  • For those companies that have made it known that they may not be able to publish their annual financial report for 2019 by 30 April 2020 at the latest, notably because of the delay incurred in the audit performed by their company auditor, the FSMA holds it possible that legislation may be adopted in this regard.
  • In the meantime, the FSMA has decided that for companies whose financial year runs from 1 January to 31 December, it will not issue a warning this year on grounds of a late publication of the annual financial report.
  • However, a potential postponement of the publication of the annual financial report does not exonerate issuers from their obligation immediately to disclose any inside information that regards them.
  • The FSMA also asks companies that decide to postpone the publication of their 2019 annual financial report to inform the public of this, even if they cannot yet give the exact date when the publication will take place.

 Regarding the organization of general meetings:

  • The FSMA holds it possible that legislation in this regard may be adopted, allowing companies to postpone their general meetings or to hold them remotely.
  • If listed companies should opt to hold a general meeting remotely, they have to be particularly attentive to communicating clear information about the way in which shareholders and the holders of other securities will be able to exercise their rights.

ESMA issues guidance on financial reporting deadlines in light of COVID-19


ESMA has issued a Public Statement on the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on the deadlines for publishing financial reports which apply to listed issuers under the Transparency Directive.

ESMA expects NCAs during this specific period not to prioritise supervisory actions against issuers in respect of the upcoming deadlines as contained in the Transparency Directive (Directive 2004/109/EC) regarding:

  • Annual financial reports referring to a year-end occurring on or after 31 December 2019 but before 1 April 2020 for a period of two months following the TD deadline; and
  • Half-yearly financial reports referring to a reporting period ending on or after 31 December 2019 but before 1 April 2020 for a period of one month following the TD deadline.

Where issuers reasonably anticipate that publication of their financial reports will be delayed beyond the deadline set out in national laws transposing the Transparency Directive, they are expected to inform their NCA of this and inform the market of the delay, the reasons for such delay and to the extent possible the estimated publication date.

Finally, ESMA reminds issuers that they continue to be subject to the disclosure obligations laid down in the Market Abuse Regulation. In particular, issuers must continue to inform the market as soon as possible of any inside information that directly concerns them.


Securities regulators coordinate responses to COVID-19 through IOSCO

Members of the International Organization of Securities Commissions are cooperating on their responses to the disruption in capital markets resulting from the macroeconomic impact of COVID-19 on the global economy.

The IOSCO Board wants capital markets to continue to function throughout this difficult period in an open and orderly manner to enable all participants to price and transfer risk across all traded asset classes. Importantly, continued functioning of equity, credit and funding markets supports the efforts of the real economy in dealing with the COVID-19 crisis through access to funding and through the ability to hedge risks.

To meet this objective, securities regulators are focused on the operational and financial resilience of market infrastructures, the operational capability of market users, and the continued flow of information to these markets. They are also providing the appropriate regulatory flexibility to help market participants address the challenges posed by COVID-19 while ensuring that market integrity and investor protection principles are maintained.

Copyright - Please do not quote without permission. Please note that this alert is not a legal advice.