Newcrest admits briefing before revamp
Newcrest Mining has confirmed that meetings were held with investment bank analysts in the days before a major corporate restructure on June 7 but the company continues to insist it did not breach market disclosure rules in those meetings.
Confirmation that briefings took place before June 7 came as Newcrest appointed former ASX chairman Maurice Newman to conduct a review of the company's disclosure performance.
Newcrest's relationship with certain analysts has been under scrutiny over recent weeks after the company's share price fell by close to 15 per cent in the 72 hours before the major restructure.
The company has long denied giving "selective briefings" before June 7, a defence that ultimately means the company denies leaking market sensitive information to preferred analysts.
But, speaking to media on Tuesday, chief executive Greg Robinson confirmed that some analysts were briefed before June 7.
"There were briefings, there were discussions with analysts as our investor relations group do on a regular basis," he said.
"They do that under the policy, procedures and standards we have in the company and again, from our point of view, we don't think they've done anything incorrect."
Analysts from Citi, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, UBS and Credit Suisse published research notes on Newcrest in the days before June 7 and many of their predictions about a more modest future for Newcrest proved accurate on June 7.
Dr Newman's review will be separate to investigations under way by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and the ASX. Those regulators have sought information from Newcrest.
When asked why he had not left ASIC to investigate the matter on their own, Newcrest chairman Don Mercer said he commissioned Dr Newman because the board wanted to know of any problems within the company as soon as possible.
"We cannot stand by and watch a slow methodical review by a third party take place - if there is an issue here, we need to know what it is and deal with it," he said.
Dr Newman owns about 30,000 shares in Newcrest and will be paid by the company for conducting the review but Mr Mercer declined to say how much he would be paid.
Apart from his time at the ASX, Dr Newman has served as chairman of the ABC and worked in the education and banking sectors.
Australian Shareholders' Association spokesman Stephen Mayne said the review was better than nothing.
"A proactive approach by the board is to be welcomed and Maurice Newman is well placed to conduct such a review - but I do think the excessive focus on disclosure detracts from the real issue, which is dreadful performance and the need for board and management accountability for the billions that have been lost," he said.
Mr Mercer conceded the saga was affecting Newcrest's share price, which has lost a further 10 per cent of its value over the past two days.