Earlier this month, when announcing it had been the subject of a series of takeover bids, the waste management company alluded to “the various risks” it currently faced.
Biffa said one of these risks was the current status of discussions with HMRC over a landfill tax inquiry, which could cost as much as £153 million.
At the time, Biffa said its full year results, scheduled for 16 June, would be delayed by 12 days in light of the potential takeover.
Deloitte LLP has requested additional time to complete its audit procedures
Now, just 24 hours before they were due, Biffa said the results would be delayed again, with a new date to be announced in “due course”.
The Biffa board expects the full year adjusted results to be “in line with the trading updates provided on 9 March 2022 and 7 June 2022”.
A spokesperson said: “Biffa plc today announces that the Group’s auditor, Deloitte LLP, has requested additional time to complete its audit procedures in relation to the group’s ongoing landfill tax enquiry which was disclosed on 7 June 2022. This will result in a delay to the publication of the Group’s audited results.
“The Group will provide an update with a revised results date in due course and release its results as soon as Deloitte has completed its work.”
While the potential £153 million charge could provide a hurdle for buyers of Biffa, the company has emphasised that the inquiry by HMRC is still in its early phases.
HMRC’s concerns could, in theory, be dropped, with no further charge levied against the company. Biffa also said it would be “some time” before the inquiry reached a conclusion. The waste firm says it “strongly refutes” HMRC’s concerns.
The potential liability could range from approximately £170,000 – based on the liability declared by Biffa to HMRC following an “extensive review” with Ernst & Young – up to a possible maximum of approximately £153 million – being the total amount of protective assessments issued by HMRC to Biffa for the period from March 2016 to March 2020 – plus penalties and interest.
HMRC has said that due to taxpayer confidentiality it cannot comment on the inquiry. It did confirm to letsrecycle.com that the case was separate to the long-running dispute relating to the taxable status of landfill fluff, which was settled in the UK Supreme Court earlier this year (see letsrecycle.com story).