On an optimistic note, some reports from Asia have suggested that Asian DCM transactions have remained steady throughout the opening quarter in 2020. Indeed, closer to home there have been some debt raisings to help alleviate some of the strain on public finances. Estonia issued a EUR200million short-term bond on 23 March to counter the financial impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. Many more states may follow.
How does COVID-19 impact listed debt?
We have included a number of practical points below which issuers of debt should bear in mind in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Market Abuse Regulation: Issuers of listed debt should acknowledge the recent statement from the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) on 11 March 2020, which stated that “issuers should disclose as soon as possible any relevant significant information concerning the impacts of COVID-19 on their fundamentals, prospects or financial situation in accordance with their transparency obligations under the Market Abuse Regulation”.
- Update Risk Factors: Where relevant to the issuer, or the securities being issued, COVID-19 specific risk factors should be included in transaction documents.
- Restructuring Existing Debt: If the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak continues to affect global markets in the next few quarters, we expect to see a significant increase in the restructuring of existing issued debt.
- Stock Exchange Filing Obligations: Where auditors are not able to complete audits as they may not be able to engage with their client due to office closures for example, this may impact an issuers ability to file annual financial statements with Euronext Dublin. We would strongly recommend that you engage with your listing agent / Euronext Dublin at the earliest possible point in order to avoid missing filing deadlines.
The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting every aspect of modern life and the effects are changing from day to day.
William Fry has considerable experience advising on all aspects of debt capital markets transactions from a legal and listing perspective.
Our partners, associates and our support teams are available as usual to support your business. We also have a specific COVID-19 Hub to help you.
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