SYDNEY, July 7 Securities regulators will
closely monitor disclosures by Australian-listed firms in the
upcoming financial reporting season after claims Newcrest Mining
Ltd held one-to-one briefings with a small number of
analysts prior to releasing bad news.
"The exercise really is designed to proactively look at the
approach the companies and analysts are taking... whether is
inadvertent or deliberate," said Cathie Armour, commissioner of
the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC).
ASIC has already launched a separate probe into possible
breaches of continuous disclosure laws by Newcrest that could
take a year or more to complete.
Newcrest on June 7 announced up to $6 billion in writedowns
due to cost overruns at some of its gold mines, driving its
stock down 14 percent. That added to a 12 percent slide over the
previous two sessions after UBS, Credit Suisse, Citi, Deutsche
Bank and Morgan Stanley all downgraded their outlooks on the
The world's third-largest gold producer has launched its own
investigation into how it releases market-sensitive information.
Newcrest Chief Executive Greg Robinson has said individual
meetings took place with analysts and management between April
and June, but that the discussions covered only information
previously disclosed to the wider market regarding the
performance of the quarter already past.
Between 15 and 20 members of ASIC will take part in the
policing exercise, which relies on voluntary participation from
the companies involved.
"We are about to enter into the reporting season for
Australian companies and this provides us with an opportune time
to remind the market about integrity on communications between
companies and investors and analysts," Armour said.
Armour declined to discuss ASIC's investigation into
Newcrest's disclosure practices apart from saying it "put the
spotlight on the more general issue of companies and there
briefings of research analysts."
(Reporting by James Regan; Editing by Ed Davies)