資訊洞見

香港聯交所新增對財務報表附有核數師無法表示意見或否定意見的發行人所適用的特定停牌規定

[ 本內容只備有英文及簡體中文版 ]

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):

  • the Exchange would normally require suspension of trading in an issuer’s securities if the issuer publishes a preliminary results announcement for a financial year and the auditor has issued, or has indicated that it will issue, a disclaimer of opinion or an adverse opinion on the issuer’s financial statements; and
  • the suspension will normally remain in force until the issuer has addressed the issues giving rise to the disclaimer or adverse opinion, provided comfort (see examples in the note below) that a disclaimer or adverse opinion in respect of such issues would no longer be required, and disclosed sufficient information to enable investors to make an informed assessment of its financial position.

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:

  • a full financial year audit or a special interim audit of the issuer’s financial statements; or
  • a special engagement of the auditor to perform audit on a single financial statement of the issuer or a specific element, account or item of a financial statement under HKSA805 (Revised).

However, the suspension requirement will not apply where:

  • the disclaimer of opinion relates to the going concern issue only
  • the underlying issue giving rise to the audit modification has been resolved before the issuer publishes the preliminary results announcement.

Effective date

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.

Transitional arrangement

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:

  • delay in government granting a requisite approval due to change in government policies, where due applications and filings had been made by the issuer, and where it has no influence on the outcome and timing of the grant;
  • a temporary suspension of business upon the request of a regulatory or government authority due to a change in the regulatory requirements; and
  • the audit issue can only be fully resolved upon a court order or a final arbitral awards with respect to outstanding proceedings is obtained or granted.

[ 簡體版 ]

2019年5月24日, 香港联合交易所有限公司(联交所)就其于去年9月刊发有关建议对财务报表附有核数师无法表示意见或否定意见的发行人实施特定停牌规定的咨询文件(请见本行去年的客户通报)刊发了咨询总结

联交所决定实施有关建议,但作出了若干改动,以反映市场的意见。

 

新增特定停牌规定

根据新增的《主板上市规则》第13.50A 条(《GEM 上市规则》第17.49B条):

  • 若发行人就个别财政年度刊发初步业绩公告时,其核数师对发行人财务报表发出或表示会发出无法表示意见或否定意见,联交所一般会要求该发行人的证券暂停买卖;及
  • 有关证券的停牌一般会持续,直至该发行人解决了导致核数师发出无法表示意见或否定意见的问题、保证核数师毋须再就该等问题发出无法表示意见或否定意见(请见下述附注之例子),以及披露足够资料以令投资者可在知情的情况下对其财务状况作出评估为止。
附注:发行人保证核数师毋须再就有关问题发出无法表示意见或否定意见的例子包括:

 

  • 对发行人的财务报表作出完整财政年度审核或特别中期审核;或
  • 特别委聘核数师根据香港核数准则第805 号(经修订)对发行人的单一财务报表又或财务报表中的个别元素、账目或项目进行审核。

然而,该停牌规定不适用于下述情况:

  • 无法表示意见只牵涉持续经营问题;或
  • 发行人在刊发初步业绩公告经已解决导致核数师发出非标准意见的相关问题。

 

生效日期

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。

 

过渡安排

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。

 

非发行人所能控制的情况的补救期

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。

附注:可能被视为非发行人所能控制的情况的例子包括:

 

  • 政府授予所需批准因政策有变而有所延误,而发行人已作出适当的申请及送呈,并对审批结果及时间没有影响力;
  • 因监管规定有变而被监管或政府当局要求暂停业务;及
  • 审核问题必须待尚在进行的程序得到法庭命令或最终仲裁裁决后方可完全解决。

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