BRITISH & AMERICAN INVESTMENT TRUST PLC
COVID-19 UPDATE - ANNOUNCEMENT OF RESULTS AND DIVIDEND
1. Announcement of Results
On 26th March, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) extended the deadline for
the announcement of listed company results from four months to six months after
year end, in response to the government's work-from-home and social distancing
guidelines to combat the Coronavirus pandemic. This deadline extension is
designed to assist companies to put in place measures to reduce as much as
possible employee exposure to the virus and to minimise onward transmission as
the peak of the epidemic approaches over the coming weeks, placing maximum
pressure on hospitals and the NHS.
As a small company based in London with auditors based in Cheltenham, we
welcome the FCA's deadline extension which will allow us to reduce employee
travel/office attendance and professional adviser contact/workload over the
Accordingly, we will postpone the announcement of our 2019 financial year
results from end April to end June. This later date will also enable us to
report to shareholders in a fuller and more informed way when more is known
about the progression and effects of the epidemic and the longevity of the
government's social and financial response to the epidemic. By that time,
markets generally could be expected to have stabilised from their currently
dislocated state and the longer term impact of the epidemic on our portfolio
and prospects should be clearer .
As a corollary, the date of our AGM will also be delayed. The FCA is currently
considering changes to the rules surrounding the timing and method of holding
AGMs in these exceptional circumstances and we understand that further
information on this will be made available in due course.
In response to government pressure, major banks and insurance companies have
cancelled already announced 2019 dividend payments and suspended planned 2020
payments. This is to conserve resources to assist in the government's
emergency funding programmes to support companies and individuals through the
Coronavirus crisis. In addition, many other leading companies have similarly
cancelled or suspended their dividend payments to conserve resources,
particularly in those industries with operations or receipts badly disrupted by
the epidemic's effects, including transport, leisure, hospitality,
manufacturing and utilities.
This systemic reduction in dividend payments will have a significant, if
hopefully short-term, effect on those savings institutions relying on
investment income generation for their operations, including pension funds,
assurance and other investment vehicles, such as ourselves.
Accordingly, we intend not to recommend the payment of a final dividend for the
2019 financial year and we propose to review 2020 dividends as the year
As previously announced in our 2019 interim statement and 2018 annual report,
the continuation of our progressive dividend policy, which had been in place
for over twenty years, would depend on a return in the share price of our major
investment, Geron Corporation, to levels closer to those seen in 2018 to enable
us to generate distributable income internally within our group. To date this
has not occurred and now, in addition, the generation of reliable dividend
income from external sources has been placed in doubt for the foreseeable
future for the reasons noted above.
In 2019, we paid a half-year interim dividend on our ordinary shares of 2.70
pence, representing a yield of approximately 5.6 percent on the ordinary share
price at the time of announcement and of approximately 6.5 percent averaged
over the year as a whole.
It is our intention to resume our dividend payments as soon as possible, as and
when circumstances permit, potentially through ad hoc interim payments not
necessarily on our normal dividend timetable, and eventually to catch up when
and if possible on witheld or reduced payments.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
April 07, 2020 05:23 ET (09:23 GMT)