JJB Sports fined £455,000 for disclosure failings

JJB Sports has been fined £455,000 by the Financial Services Authority for failing to disclose information to the market about the true cost of two acquisitions.

According to the FSA, this led to a false market in JJB shares for over nine months.

JJB made a number of market announcements in that time, which did not correct the position.

On 18 December 2007 JJB announced that it had purchased Original Shoe Company for £5 million in cash. The retailer, however, failed to disclose that, in addition to the cash price, it had to pay £10.038 million for the in-store stock.

On 22 May 2008 JJB announced that it had purchased Qubefootwear for £1, but failed to disclose that, as part of the acquisition, it had agreed to settle Qube’s £6.47 million overdraft prior to completion.

In both cases the cost of the acquisition was inside information and should therefore have been disclosed to the market as soon as possible.

At the relevant time the cash positions of listed companies were the subject of increasing investor focus and JJB’s failure to disclose gave a false impression of the costs of OSC and Qube, and of the impact of those acquisitions on the true nature and costs of JJB’s strategy.

On 26 September 2008 JJB published its 2008 interim results which, for the first time, disclosed the true costs of the OSC and Qube acquisitions.

By this time it had been necessary for JJB to arrange a short-term bridging facility to shore up its financial position, and the 2008 interim results also noted uncertainties about JJB’s ability to continue as a going concern.

On the day the results were published, JJB’s share price fell by 49.5 per cent from 104p to 52p.

In determining the penalty for JJB’s actions the FSA has taken into account a number of factors, including JJB’s cooperation with the investigation and that the entire executive board and nearly all of JJB’s non-executive directors have changed since the events in question.

“JJB’s failure to disclose information about the two acquisitions denied investors the ability to fully understand its financial position and make informed investment decisions,” says Alexander Justham, FSA director of markets.

“The repeated failure to disclose this information showed a lack of regard for the market, the disclosure rules and investors.

“Timely and accurate disclosure of inside information is a fundamental component of a properly functioning securities market and is a key focus of the FSA in enforcing the disclosure regime around listed companies.

“The action we have taken shows it is unacceptable to tell only part of the story, whilst leaving material facts unannounced in the background.”

JJB agreed to settle at an early stage in the investigation and therefore qualified for a 30 per cent reduction in the penalty imposed.

Were it not for this discount, the FSA would have imposed a financial penalty of £650,000.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button