December 5, 2012 / 2:50 PM / 5 years ago

Big Lots says SEC didn't contact it on CEO's stock sale

Dec 5 (Reuters) - Close-out retailer Big Lots Inc said Wednesday the company had not been contacted by U.S. securities regulators about a $10 million stock sale by CEO Steven Fishman ahead of negative news on the company, though a spokesman couldn’t say if Fishman had been contacted.

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was investigating the sale. The trades were highlighted in a front-page Journal story last week, which said Fishman had sold $10 million of his stock a month before Big Lots reported a surprise quarterly loss that sent its stock down nearly 25 percent in a day. ()

“We have not received anything from the SEC,” Andy Regrut, director of investor relations for Big Lots, told Reuters.

Regrut said he didn’t know if the SEC had contacted Fishman directly, and referred other questions to the company’s general counsel, who was not available for comment.

On Tuesday, the company said Fishman would retire in 2013 for personal reasons, but would remain in the top role until a replacement was found.

The SEC allows company executives to trade their own stock by using a preset trading plan known as “10b5-1,” even when they have access to private information.

Big Lots told the Journal that Fishman’s departure was unrelated to the investigation and that the stock sale was made “at a time when the company’s trading window was open.”

However, the company told the Journal that Fishman’s March trade - the subject of the SEC probe - was not made using the 10b5-1 plan.

Big Lots shares were down 2 percent at $30.63 in morning trading Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange.

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