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SEC grants regulatory relief to companies affected by coronavirus

Mar 05. 2020
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By The Washington Post · Renae Merle · BUSINESS, US-GLOBAL-MARKETS

Companies affected by the spread of the coronavirus won a regulatory reprieve from the Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday.

The SEC said it will temporarily lift some requirements that publicly traded companies periodically alert shareholders to their financial health and quickly disclose significant corporate changes that could affect the stock price.

Companies that can show they need extra time will be granted a reprieve for documents that should have been filed from March 1 to April 30, the SEC said.

"The health and safety of all participants in our markets is of paramount importance," SEC Chair Jay Clayton said in a statement.

Timely public disclosures are "a cornerstone of well-functioning markets," he said, but "we recognize that this situation may prevent certain issuers from compiling these reports within required time frames." 

Companies are increasingly canceling conferences, limiting employees' travel and weighing work-from-home arrangements to curb the outbreak. "Disruptions to transportation, and limited access to facilities, support staff, and professional advisors as a result of COVID-19, could hamper the efforts of public companies and other persons with filing obligations to meet their filing deadlines," the SEC said in its order.

Some of the countries' biggest banks are also asking federal officials for long-sought regulatory relief as part of the government's efforts to contain the economic fallout from the coronavirus, including lowering their capital requirements. But those efforts have been broadly criticized by the industry's critics as opportunistic and unnecessary.


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