JJB Sports PLC (JJB) has been fined by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) after it failed to disclose to the market full details of its acquisitions of the retail chains Original Show Company (OSC) and Qubefootwear Ltd (Qube).
The Disclosure and Transparency Rules (DTR) apply to companies which are listed on a regulated market in the UK. The Listing Rules (LR) apply to companies which are listed on the FSA’s Official List. The DTR and LR impose certain obligations on such companies, including the way in which inside information should be controlled and disclosed. This is to ensure that all of the users of the markets receive the same information at the same time.
As JJB is a FTSE listed company it is subject to the DTR and LR.
JJB acquired OSC on 18 December 2007 for £5 million but did not disclose that it was also to purchase the in-store stock at a price of £10.038 million. On the later acquisition of Qube on 22 May 2008 for the nominal sum of £1, JJB failed to disclose the fact that it was in addition settling Qube’s overdraft facility at a cost of £6.47 million.
It was only later on 26 September 2008 when JJB published its interim results that it disclosed the true costs of the acquisitions for the first time, resulting in its share price falling by 49.5%.
The FSA considered that JJB’s failure to disclose the true costs of the acquisitions had created a false market in JJB’s shares for over nine months. The true costs constituted inside information and the information was that which a reasonable investor would use to reach investment decisions. JJB had therefore failed to comply with the DTR and LR.
The FSA originally imposed a penalty fine of £650,000 which was later reduced to £455,000 as a result of JJB’s cooperation in quickly reaching a settlement. This sum is the second largest fine the FSA has imposed for a breach of the DTR and LR.