In the massive press coverage about “Brexit” one of the most frequently used words is “uncertainty”. While the impact of Brexit will differ from company to company it is important, as we come to the end of the June 30, 2016 quarter (or whenever your next quarter end will be), to think about whether the vote and the resulting uncertainty should be dealt with in your SEC reporting.
The two most straightforward issues are likely risk factors and MD&A known trends.
The risk factor disclosure in Part II Item 1A of 10-Q refers back to S-K 503(c) and requires disclosure of what makes owning your company’s securities “speculative or risky”. Companies should consider whether the uncertainties and already known impacts of Brexit increase risk and deserve mention in risk factors.
When a risk factor becomes more probable of having a material impact the risk factor should transmogrify into an MD&A “known trend” disclosure. This disclosure is required when there are “known trends or uncertainties that have had or that the registrant reasonably expects will have a material favorable or unfavorable impact on net sales or revenues or income from continuing operations.” (S-K Item 303). There are similar known trend disclosures for liquidity and capital resources. If you could be affected by market uncertainty, reasonably possible changes in exchange rates or other impacts of Brexit this disclosure may be necessary in MD&A. Lots of judgment here.
It is always important to remember that the “reasonably expects” probabilistic test in FR 36 requires disclosure if you cannot say the trend is “not reasonably likely” to come to fruition. (Sorry for the double negative, but it is in the test!). So if there is a 50/50 chance of a material impact, disclosure should likely be made.
Lastly, beyond these two issues there are a wealth of other possible accounting and disclosure ramifications, ranging from issues such as possible elevated risk of impairment to tax consequences, depending on your circumstances.
As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome.