The FCA has now formally removed the requirement to publish IMSs with immediate effect (as expected earlier than the originally planned Nov 2015 date).
The FCA have said that “from 7 November 2014, the requirement in the DTRs to publish interim management statements will be removed. The change will affect issuers of shares admitted to trading on a regulated market where the UK acts as home Member State and the FCA’s DTRs apply. After this date, issuers may continue to publish interim management statements (or quarterly financial reports) on a voluntary basis, if they so choose.”
The full announcement from the FCA can be read here.
All the expectations at the moment are that for the vast majority of FTSE 350 companies, there will be little immediate change. Most companies, other than very slow moving industries, believe they need to update the market around 4 times a year in order to ensure “equal dissemination of information”.
However, IMS’ becoming voluntary does give companies more flexibility on both timing and content. We expect the former in particular to change and probably move back towards the pre-close or post-close statements that used to be more popular before IMS’ came into being. Content may also become more focused and in some cases shorter, with an emphasis on the medium-term. However, many corporates are currently indicating that they are keen to maintain some regularity to these statements to avoid a trading update being seen by the media as a “profit warning or more significant event than just keeping markets up to date.