The listed companies have been temporarily exempted from mandatory board meetings and general meetings amid an emergency situation caused by the coronavirus, said Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (BSEC).
They can accomplish the mandatory meetings by using digital platforms, which is allowed in most countries, the securities regulator added.
In the 729th commission meeting on Tuesday, the BSEC decided that companies will be allowed to defer the mandatory submission of financial statements, arrangement of board meetings and shareholders' general meetings – AGM and EGM – to help them maintain social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Companies preferring online meetings must maintain digital and hard copy records of the events and those must be submitted to the regulator as part of compliance.
Some listed companies have already postponed such meetings to avert physical gatherings, and the Bangladesh Association of Publicly Listed Companies has requested the BSEC to consider the situation.
Securities law made it mandatory that listed companies and mutual funds must prepare and publish their financial statements on quarterly and yearly basis within a pre-determined time.
Listed companies get 30 to 45 days to prepare unaudited statements after each quarter ends while, for annual audited statements, they get four months after their pre-declared fiscal year ends.
The statements have to be approved in board meetings and later submitted to the stock exchanges and the BSEC, and published for shareholders.
Board meetings are also mandatory to take a range of material decisions in companies' business.
Annual audited financial statements, dividends, appointment of next auditor and directors are subject to shareholders' approval in AGMs which must take place in time – no later than one year after the previous AGM.
Shareholders also need to approve or refuse some special proposals by company management in extra-ordinary general meetings or EGM.
However, there remains a question over how long listed companies will be allowed to defer the mandatory events for.
When asked, a senior BSEC official told The Business Standard the commission will decide on it as soon as the coronavirus emergency is gone.