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Regulatory news

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Financial reporting and investment valuation

Burford values transparency in its presentation of financial results and wants to be clear with investors about its approach to those results.

Most of Burford’s income comes from its litigation finance business. Within that business, there are two principal sources of income for accounting purposes, realized gains on investments and unrealized gains on investments. (Realized and unrealized losses will naturally negatively affect income and the principles we set forth here apply equally to losses.)

Realized gains are straightforward: they represent the amount of profit, net of the return of Burford’s invested capital and any previously recognized unrealized gains, on an investment that has either resolved entirely or has been settled or adjudicated such that, in Burford’s view, there is no longer litigation risk associated with the investment. (In the latter event, Burford may discount the anticipated profit in respect of an investment to account for any continuing uncertainty as to the recoverability of any amount.) Burford announces individual investment results that will produce realized gains separately from its financial results only when the individual gain is new information which may be material to Burford.

Unrealized gains are more complex: they represent the fair value of Burford’s investment assets, as determined by Burford’s board of directors in accordance with the requirements of the relevant IFRS standards, as at the end of the relevant financial reporting period. There is no active secondary market for litigation risk, and thus there is generally no market-based approach to assessing fair value; to the extent that a secondary market transaction does take place with respect to an investment, the implied value of that transaction is a key valuation input. In the absence of such a transaction, we are mindful that the outcome of each matter Burford finances is likely to be inherently uncertain, may take several years to conclude and is often difficult to predict with accuracy. Moreover, litigation matters frequently experience multiple significant shifts in sentiment during their evolution. Burford thus eschews fair values based solely on current sentiment, and focuses on objective events (such as court rulings or settlement offers) to ground its assessment of fair value.

Burford’s board of directors assesses the fair value of Burford’s investments after the close of each financial reporting period and therefore investors should not expect updates about potential changes in fair value during the course of any given reporting period. Following the close of each financial reporting period, Burford’s board determines the fair values of investments after taking into account the views of management, the operation of the audit process and input from external experts (as it considers appropriate). Generally, that process does not conclude finally until shortly before the release of Burford’s financial results for the relevant period.

Burford is pleased to be followed by a number of research analysts and we are grateful for their efforts to understand and explain our business. They perform a valuable role in assessing our operating performance, the evolution of the litigation finance market and interpreting other relevant industry developments. However, prospective investors and other market participants must appreciate that, due to the confidential, potentially privileged, long-term and uncertain nature of each investment asset, it is very difficult for research analysts to project accurately the likely investment income of the business. Any projections produced by research analysts are not produced on behalf of Burford and Burford takes no responsibility for such projections. As a result, prospective investors and other market participants should not treat, and Burford does not intend to treat, the financial projections produced by research analysts as indicative of the market’s expectations of Burford’s future financial performance. We specifically eschew any obligation to correct estimates made by financial analysts or to inform the market should we come to believe that our actual performance will diverge from those estimates. This is, of course, different to the approach taken by most operating companies, in respect of which research analysts can produce relatively reliable estimates and the relevant company will advise the market if it expects to see performance materially different from the consensus of analyst forecasts. It is important that investors understand that Burford takes a different approach as a result of the different nature of its business.

 

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Briefing papers

Date Description Download
30 September 2019 Witness statement of Richard Charles East – Quinn Emanuel Report on Petersen
30 September 2019 Report of Professor Mitts Strong evidence that fair value is fair
23 September 2019 Burford Capital briefing on fair value and return computations Strong evidence that fair value is fair
2 September 2019 Burford Capital chronology of Napo investment Strong evidence that fair value is fair
8 August 2019 Response to short attack Strong evidence that fair value is fair

 

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Shareholder FAQs

Burford is a pioneering capital provider to the global legal industry and the leader in litigation finance.

WHAT ARE BURFORD CAPITAL’S CORPORATE DETAILS?

Burford Capital Limited was incorporated on 11 September 2009 in Guernsey with company registration number 50877. Its shares trade on the Alternative Investment Market of the London Stock Exchange under ticker BUR; ISIN GG00B4L84979. Its registered office is Regency Court, Glategny Esplanade, St Peter Port, Guernsey GY1 1WW.

As Burford Capital Limited is not incorporated in the UK, the rights of shareholders may be different from the rights of shareholders in a UK incorporated company. The Company is subject to the UK City Code on Takeovers and Mergers.

Burford Capital Limited and its committees are responsible for the governance of the group of companies.

ON WHICH EXCHANGE IS BURFORD CAPITAL LISTED AND WHAT IS THE TICKER?

Burford Capital’s shares trade on the Alternative Investment Market of the London Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol BUR. 

WHO ADVISES BURFORD CAPITAL?

Click here to see a list of our Advisors.

HOW OFTEN DOES BURFORD CAPITAL REPORT RESULTS?

The annual report and accounts covering the year ended 31 December each year are dispatched within six months of that date. Shareholders also receive an unaudited interim report covering the six-month period ended 30 June each year, which is dispatched within three months of that date. Burford’s reporting currency is US dollars.

WHAT IS BURFORD CAPITAL’S DIVIDEND POLICY?

Each year, once the prior year’s results are known, the Burford board will review the company’s profits, cash generation and cash needs, and will recommend a dividend level to shareholders for consideration at Burford’s AGM. It will be Burford’s goal to pay a dividend that provides an appealing dividend yield yet also encourages reinvestment in the business to produce capital appreciation. While the dividend is expected to be progressive as the company grows, it also should not be expected that it will necessarily be raised every year that there is earnings growth. Once a dividend level (expressed in US dollars, the company’s reporting currency) is set, the Board will recommend a reduction in the dividend level in subsequent years only in unusual circumstances, even if a single year’s earnings decline due to the inherent volatility of Burford’s business. Extraordinary successes may be celebrated through either special dividends or share repurchases, again depending on the company’s other cash needs and potential to invest for further capital appreciation.

DO THE SHARES OF BURFORD CAPITAL QUALIFY FOR UK BUSINESS PROPERTY RELIEF?

We are regularly asked by UK investors whether Burford’s shares qualify for UK Business Property Relief (“BPR”) for inheritance tax purposes. Burford cannot of course provide you with tax or other financial planning advice, and you should consult your own advisors rather than rely on what is stated here, but we provide the below comments in an effort to assist you in your own analysis.

We are not aware of any case where Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has rejected Burford’s shares as qualifying for BPR.

That is not, however, a complete answer. AIM shares like Burford’s are eligible for consideration for BPR. Unfortunately, the manner in which HMRC determines an ultimate position appears to be on a case-by-case basis. In other words, as part of the process for executing the will or administering the estate of a person who has died, a local HMRC agent will make his or her own individual assessment, which may or may not be consistent with an assessment made by another agent. There appears to be no HMRC master list of AIM-listed companies whose shares are eligible for BPR and there is no mechanism for obtaining an advance ruling.

In our view, it is not possible for any company to provide investors with an assurance that their shares will qualify for BPR.

DOES THE COMPANY HAVE AN EMPLOYEE SHARE INCENTIVE PLAN?

Yes, the company has a long-term incentive plan designed to align employee incentives with those of shareholders. Details about the plan can be found here. The Remuneration Committee determines eligibility for awards and oversees the operation and administration of the plan.

 

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DISCLAIMER

This section of Burford’s website is intended for the use of Burford’s public investors and is required to be provided under AIM Rule 26. Burford also maintains a separate private funds business. Information presented here is not intended for the use of private fund investors, nor is it presented in the appropriate form for such investors. Moreover, Burford does not present this information as a solicitation of private fund investment, which occurs only through appropriate offering documents.