Coronavirus forces PwC to delay annual results

Auditor PwC and scandal-hit car dealer Looker have become the latest businesses to delay their financial results. 

Lookers, which is grappling with an accounting scandal, said it was ‘no longer possible’ to provide numbers by the end of August as it needed more time to investigate potential fraud. 

At the same time, PwC is delaying its own full-year results until next year, while it decides what to do about pay and bonuses in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. The firm’s partners last year received a record £765,000 each on average but they have not been paid a dividend this summer because of the pandemic. 

Not signing off: Auditor PwC is delaying its full-year results until next year

Not signing off: Auditor PwC is delaying its full-year results until next year

Not signing off: Auditor PwC is delaying its full-year results until next year

‘Our current priorities are managing our business, supporting our clients and preserving jobs,’ PwC said. 

The Financial Conduct Authority gave companies extra time to publish results earlier this year in light of the pandemic, saying they could be released as much as six months after their financial year-end. 

However, Lookers’ decision marks the fourth time it has delayed publishing its annual results for 2019. 

It has been held up by a widening probe into a suspected £19m internal fraud – including wrongly-paid bonuses and dubious expense claims. 

Auditor Grant Thornton is conducting the investigation. 

The scandal meant the company failed to produce accounts by a deadline of June 30, triggering the automatic suspension of its shares. It had hoped to publish them by the end of this month. Yesterday Lookers shifted the goalposts again, saying the probe was now being widened to cover corporate leasing, vehicle financing and balance sheets from ‘2018 and earlier’ as well. 

‘The board has concluded that publication of the group’s 2019 financial statements is no longer possible by the end of August, as was previously anticipated,’ it said in an update to the stock market.

However, Lookers insisted it ‘continues to believe that potential restatements will not prevent 2019 from remaining profitable’. 

The company, which sells cars through more than 150 dealerships across the UK and Ireland, previously warned that restating its accounts could deal a £19m hit to its finances.

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