The global health pandemic caused by the coronavirus has not only killed and infected people, but it is proving to be a major disruption in every aspect of life. Some companies listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange which were due to release their audited financial statements have notified shareholders of anticipated delays.
Botswana’s top budget grocer, Choppies Enterprises, which for the last two years was embroiled in controversy over its operations is one of the companies that have notified the markets that audited financial statements will be delayed due to the disruptions caused by Covid-19, a disease that has caused havoc across the world.
For Choppies shareholders and market observers, the delay of results for financial year ended June 2019 is nothing new, but only adds to the anxiety. Choppies remains suspended on the BSE and Johannesburg Stock Exchange over its failure to publish audited results on time. The June 2019 financials are already overdue by seven months and were supposed to be published by end of June 2020. The retailer says this will not be possible as measures imposed by the government to curtail the spread of the virus has affected the work of auditors.
“The current lockdown in Botswana imposed by the government has affected the work stream related to the completion of the Annual Financial Statements in respect of the financial year ended 30 June 2019 and the Auditor’s Report thereon,” the company said in cautionary note on Wednesday.
“Accordingly, it is anticipated that the said Financial Statements and Auditor’s Report shall be completed and released on or about 30 July 2020, presuming that the current lockdown will cease on 30 April 2020.”
This means that the June 2019 financials will be ten months late as ordinarily they should have been published by September 2019 latest. However, the company has had troubles with auditors and regulators after it failed to publish the audited June 2018 financials on time, setting in motion a corporate scandal that played itself over a year. The company finally released the financials in December 2019, late by a year and five months. Adding to the drama, the company’s auditor, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), dropped the retailer as a client and refused to sign off the June 2018 financials. The retail chain giant says it will be suing PwC for over P800 over how the whole saga unfolded.
Meanwhile, Choppies added that in the event that the lockdown is extended, the anticipated date for completion of the said annual financial statements will be delayed and a further announcement advising shareholders of the revised expected date of completion will be released.
Besides Choppies, G4S Botswana, the only listed security company on the BSE, says its December 2019 financials which were supposed to be published before end of March, will be published before this month ends, attributing the delay to the requirement to weigh in the impact of Covid-19 on the financial standing of the security company. The company added that its auditors are working around the clock to assess the impact on the viability of the business.
The country’s top microlender and one of the most profitable companies on the BSE, Letshego Holdings, which operates in other markets outside Botswana has also notified shareholders that the financial statements for the year ended December 2019, which are supposed to be publicly released at the latest in March, will only be available on April, citing the lockdown for the delay.
“The Independent External Auditors of the Letshego Group, informed Letshego that it would not be able to complete their review of the audited financial statements, and therefore issue their audit opinion, due to additional disclosures needed to be included in the audited financial statements around subsequent events and related notes specifically relating to Covid-19. This is due in the main to the impact of the lockdown in South Africa where the EY Technical IFRS team is based,” Letshego said.
Property investment behemoth, Turnstar Holdings, which owns Game City, one of the biggest and busiest mall in the country, said its financials for the year ended January 2020 which were due this month will be delayed as a result of the lockdown, with auditors unable to complete the annual audit as it was ongoing when the lockdown came into effect.
“The Turnstar Group Audited Annual Financial Statements for the year ended 31 January 2020, will be published on or before the 31 May 2020,” the company said.