On 24 May 2019, The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited (Exchange) released its conclusions on the consultation paper published last September on the proposal to introduce a specific suspension requirement applicable to listed issuers with disclaimer or adverse audit opinion on their financial statements.
The Exchange decided to implement the proposal, but with modifications taking into account some of the market’s concerns.
New specific suspension requirement
Under the new Main Board Rule 13.50A (GEM Rule 17.49B):
Note: Examples on how an issuer could provide comfort that a disclaimer or adverse opinion in respect of the relevant issues would no longer be required include:
However, the suspension requirement will not apply where:
The new Main Board Rule 13.50A (GEM Rule 17.49B) will apply to issuers’ preliminary annual results announcements for financial years commencing on or after 1 September 2019.
Under the current delisting rules, issuers may be delisted after their continuous suspension for 18 months for a Main Board issuer (or 12 months for a GEM issuer) (prescribed remedial period).
As a transitional arrangement, the prescribed remedial period will be extended to 24 months for both Main Board and GEM issuers that are suspended solely due to a disclaimer or adverse opinion being issued in the first two financial years after the implementation of the new rule. That means, the 24 months’ remedial period will apply to issuers suspended solely due to disclaimer or adverse opinions on their financial statements for the financial years commencing on or after 1 September 2019 and up to and including 31 August 2021.
Remedial period for circumstances outside issuer’s control
The Exchange has also updated Guidance letter HKEX-GL95-18 on long suspension and delisting to clarify that where an issuer suspended under Main Board Rule 13.50A (GEM Rule 17.49B) has satisfied the Exchange that it has made all reasonable efforts to resolve the issues but, due to reasons outside its control (see examples in the note below), such underlying issues remain unresolved upon expiry of the prescribed remedial period, the Exchange would consider allowing a longer remedial period, with the duration of the period to be determined case by case. Such extension would be brought to the Listing Committee for consideration. The Listing Committee would not normally allow a further extension of the remedial period.
Note: Examples of circumstances that may be considered to be outside the issuer’s control include:
根据新增的《主板上市规则》第13.50A 条（《GEM 上市规则》第17.49B条）：
新增的《主板上市规则》第13.50A 条（《GEM 上市规则》第17.49B条）将适用于发行人在2019年9月1日或之后开始的财政年度的全年初步业绩公告。
按现行《上市规则》有关除牌的条文，主板发行人连续停牌18个月（GEM 发行人：12 个月）（规定补救期）可能会被除牌。
作为过渡安排，若主板及GEM 发行人纯粹是因为核数师在新增的《主板上市规则》第13.50A 条（《GEM 上市规则》第17.49B条）实行后首两个财政年度发出无法表示意见或否定意见而停牌，规定补救期可延长至24个月。 换句话说，24个月的补救期将适用于纯粹因为在2019年9月1日至2021年8月31日期间（首尾两日包括在内）开始的财政年度的财务报表附有无法表示意见或否定意见而停牌的发行人。
联交所亦更新了有关长时间停牌及除牌的指引信HKEX-GL95-18，以厘清根据《主板上市规则》第13.50A 条（《GEM 上市规则》第17.49B条）被停牌的发行人，其若能使联交所信纳其已尽一切合理努力解决问题，只是因为非发行人所能控制的原因（请见下述附注之例子），才致令相关事宜在规定补救期期限届满时仍未能解决，联交所会考虑延长补救期，并根据个别情况决定延长的期限。相关延长事宜将会呈报上市委员会考虑，上市委员会一般不会再延长补救期。