In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the European Securities and Markets Authority ("ESMA") issued a notice on 13th March 2020, urging financial market participants to take the necessary measures and precautions to deal with the evolving situation and to be able to cater for any eventuality.
ESMA together with National Competent Authorities ("NCAs"), including the Malta Financial Services Authority ("MFSA"), have been closely monitoring the impact which this pandemic has had on the financial markets within the European Union ("EU").
The recommendations put forward by ESMA are in relation to the following areas:
Business Continuity Planning
All financial market participants must be prepared to put their contingency plans into practice, including their business continuity measures, in order to ensure operational continuity in accordance with regulatory obligations.
The focus here is on issuers, who are expected to disclose any relevant significant information regarding the effects of COVID-19 on their fundamentals, prospects or financial situation in line with the transparency requirements under the Market Abuse Regulation, as soon as possible.
Again, the focus here is on issuers. ESMA expects issuers to provide transparency on the actual and potential impacts of COVID-19, to the extent possible based on both a qualitative and quantitative assessment of their business activities, financial situation and economic performance in their 2019 year-end financial report, if these are yet to be finalised, or otherwise in the case of interim financial reporting disclosures.
With regard to fund management, fund managers are urged to continue to apply the relevant requirements on risk management and to react accordingly.
ESMA, together with NCAs, will be carefully monitoring the current situation for any developments.