Disclosure questioned at Freedom Foods
- The disclosure around irregularities and the timing of investigations into the accounts at Freedom Foods Group have been called into question after heavy trading in the stock in the lead up to its suspension on June 25.
- Two sources suggested disclosure could be an issue for the troubled cereals, snacks and drinks business, whose stock remains in a trading halt while it further investigates accounting and reporting shortfalls.
- Their departures came as Freedom Foods flagged a blowout of $60 million in writedowns in obsolete stock dating back as far as 2017 – roughly half of its stock position from the first half of 2020.
- By May 29 – the day the company flagged $25 million writedowns in discontinued and obsolete stock and culled the interim and final dividends – 12.75 million shares changed hands.
- PwC and Ashurst are investigating Freedom Food's finances after the company flagged a blowout of $60 million in obsolete stock writedowns.
China Passed Security Law in Hong Kong. Goes into Effect July First
- China has passed a national security law for Hong Kong which many worry spells the end of the territory's unique freedoms.
- Beijing has said Hong Kong should respect and protect rights and liberties while safeguarding national security - but many still fear the loss of Hong Kong's freedoms with this law.
- Hong Kong was handed back to China from British control in 1997, but under a unique agreement - a mini-constitution called the Basic Law and a so-called "one country, two systems" principle.
- Under the same agreement, Hong Kong had to enact is own national security law - this was set out in Article 23 of the Basic Law - but it never happened because of its unpopularity.
- Many might ask how China can do this if the city was supposed to have freedoms guaranteed under the handover agreement.
Freedom Foods CEO resigns
- Freedom Foods is searching for a new managing director after long-serving boss Rory Macleod resigned less than a week after the departure of chief financial officer Campbell Nicholas.
- The Freedom Foods board, led by chairman Perry Gunner, said on Tuesday it had accepted Mr Macleod's resignation as managing director and chief executive on Monday night.
- Mr Macleod went on leave last Wednesday, a day after the unexpected resignation of Mr Nicholas, who was chief financial officer and company secretary.
- Their departures threw the cereals, snacks and drinks business into turmoil and triggered an investigation into accounting and reporting shortfalls.
- The board has been forced to intervene in the company's operations and has hired Ashurst and PwC to investigate its financial position, including potential accounting discrepancies and inventory levels.
- CEO Rory Macleod resigned on Monday night, less than a week after the departure of CFO Campbell Nicholas.
Funds under pressure to write down Freedom Foods
- One of Australia's largest investment firms is among a group of fund managers that could come under pressure to account for their holdings in the beleaguered Freedom Foods by writing down the value of the suspended stock before the end of the financial year.
- The fund managers could come under scrutiny as they prepare to calculate performance fees for the end of financial year as Freedom Foods will head into the end of June with a much higher value than it is worth on paper.
- Freedom Foods went into a trading halt on Wednesday and said on Thursday it would have to write down an extra $35 million of inventory and increase its allowance for doubtful debts for the current financial year.
- Fund managers holding significant stakes in Freedom Foods will be under pressure to write down the value of their holding to avoid taking a performance fee on a lost bet.