SEC urges listed firms to factor coronavirus risks in their financial disclosures

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has urged listed companies in the country to factor coronavirus risks in their financial reporting disclosures.

The SEC said Wednesday that companies may have "significant" operations in China and other jurisdictions that may be affected by the coronavirus or may have their suppliers, distributors and/or customers in those regions.

While actual effects may be difficult to assess, the SEC said companies should work with their auditors to ensure that their financial reporting and auditing processes are “as robust as practicable in light of the circumstances in meeting the applicable requirements."

Last month, SEC Chairman Jay Clayton said he had directed staff to start monitoring companies’ disclosures related to the “current and potential effects” of the coronavirus on their businesses.

“This is an uncertain issue where actual effects will depend on many factors beyond the control and knowledge of issuers. However, how issuers plan for that uncertainty and how they choose to respond to events as they unfold can nevertheless be material to an investment decision,” Clayton said at the time.

Over 2,000 people have died from the coronavirus outbreak as of Feb. 20, according to Worldometer, while over 75,000 cases have been confirmed in 30 countries and territories.