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SEC readies rules to help firms cope with COVID-19

The Securities and Exchange Commission said it is finalizing measures that will allow companies to use remote communication in regular and special meetings to help mitigate the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 on business operations.

“The disruption, risks and effects of the outbreak of the new coronavirus disease, COVID-19, transcend sectors,” SEC chairperson Emilio Aquino said.

“In line with the president’s declaration of a state of public health emergency, the commission will explore and implement all appropriate measures to help contain the spread of COVID-19 and mitigate its effects,” Aquino said.

The agency said it was looking at extending the filing period for annual reports for corporations affected by the speed of the virus.

The corporate regulator said in a statement it would issue a memorandum circular to provide guidelines on the attendance and participation of directors, trustees, stockholders, members and other officers of corporations in regular and special meetings through remote communication, pursuant to Republic Act No. 11232, or the Revised Corporation Code.

It said that upon approval of the guidelines, it would immediately allow corporations to conduct meetings through remote communication or other alternative modes to consider and approve the necessary provisions in their bylaws or internal procedures in time for their forthcoming annual stockholders’ or members’ meetings.

The SEC said it began holding meetings through remote communication, allowing for the participation of the directors of its extension offices in Baguio, Tarlac, Legazpi, Cebu, Bacolod, Iloilo, Davao, Cagayan de Oro and Zamboanga. 

It is also set to issue a memorandum circular giving all affected companies more time to submit their annual reports (SEC Form 17-A), including annual financial statements, for the period ended December 31, 2019, as well as quarterly reports (SE Form 17-Q) for the first three months of 2020 for publicly listed companies.

The extension will allow companies affected by travel restrictions, suspension of business operations and other measures implemented to contain the COVID-19 outbreak to gather all information or documents necessary in the preparation and the subsequent audit of their reports.

It encouraged corporations to utilize SEC Express Nationwide Submission for their annual reports.

Topics: Securities and Exchange Commission , SEC , coronavirus disease 2019 , COVID-19
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