Wednesday 25 March 2020 12:30 pm

London Stock Exchange to allow dividend delay over coronavirus disruption

The London Stock Exchange is to allow companies listed on its market to delay the payment of dividends by up to 30 days as markets grapple with the impact of coronavirus. 

“As a result of market conditions and issuers implementing their contingency plans, the Exchange has received enquiries from issuers and their advisers regarding deferral or cancellation of their dividend payments,” the LSE said in a statement to the market today. 

Read more: Coronavirus advice for workers must be clearer, says business committee chair Rachel Reeves

“From today the exchange will permit a deferral period of up to 30 business days for payment of a dividend, but no more than 60 business days after the record date.”

The LSE’s deferral comes amid a spate of dividend cancellations and suspensions as companies rush to shore up their finances against the economic shock caused by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Halfords, Persimmon, Belway and SSP today became the latest companies to scrap or defer their dividends in response to the virus. 

Listed firms are also rushing to mothball their results after the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) called for preliminary results to be suspended to allow companies to better assess how the pandemic will affect them.  

Read more: FTSE 100 rise falters despite $2 trillion US coronavirus stimulus

Private companies in the UK have also been offered a results reprieve. The government announced today that businesses are to be given an extra three months to file their accounts with Companies House so they can prioritise responding to coronavirus.