Virus postpones Burford Capital's results

Two employees key to its results process have had to self-isolate due to the coronavirus

Virus postpones Burford Capital's results

Burford Capital has decided to postpone reporting its annual financial performance by up to three weeks because of the impact of the coronavirus.

The New York-headquartered and UK-listed litigation funder said that two employees key to its results process have had to self-isolate because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The reporting has also been affected by third-party dependencies, including auditors, printers, and graphic designers, who have been affected by the virus.

“At present, we anticipate that delay to be two or three weeks, and we will announce a firm date for our results as soon as we are able; as things stand presently, we certainly do not expect the delay to extend beyond Easter,” the funder said.

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Burford has closed its New York office and told staff to work from home in response to the outbreak. The company said that the family of one of its executives has been personally affected by the outbreak.

“Both the governor of New York and the mayor of New York City have asked businesses to have employees work remotely, and we along with a number of our law firm clients are doing so. The US National Guard has been dispatched to a New York City suburb to contain an outbreak traced to a midtown Manhattan lawyer; one of Burford’s executives’ brothers is under quarantine due to that outbreak,” Burford said.

In the city, which has been placed under a state of emergency, a Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan partner recently tested positive for COVID-19. The partner is part of a religious community in Westchester County, which is the same community as the lawyer of a boutique firm in Manhattan who was the second person in New York State to test positive for the virus. Wall Street’s courthouse has also cancelled jury trials.

Burford said that apart from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the company is open for business. It signed two term sheets for new investments just last week.

“Courts remain generally operational, and where delays occur, Burford often benefits economically from them.  Burford is a global and geographically dispersed business built with remote operations in mind.  All of our information systems are cloud-based.  Our client base of lawyers is especially capable of working virtually and we are confident in our ability to keep engaging them,” it said.

Burford believes that the disruptions will not have any material negative impact on its business, it said. It could even be beneficial.

“[Indeed] we expect a heightened level of engagement as firms and their clients head into a potential downturn and also come to grips with the economic damage inflicted by the coronavirus.  In addition, our management team is geographically dispersed and will remain so, mitigating any local impact,” Burford said.

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