July 24, 2019 / 10:59 AM / 2 months ago

Italy's Bio-on denies U.S. fund's allegations of accounting flaws

MILAN, July 24 (Reuters) - Italian bio-plastics company Bio-on denied allegations of accounting irregularities by U.S. hedge fund Quintessential Capital Management, saying it was considering legal action against the fund.

Bio-on shares were suspended for trading for excessive volatility and were indicated down 10.3% after the allegations, included in a report dated July 19 and posted on Quintessential’s website, was picked up by Italian media on Wednesday.

Quintessential said in the report it has an economic interest in the price movement of Bio-on shares, which typically means it has a short position on the company’s stock.

In a statement, Bio-on said it “completely denies allegations of wrongdoing by its management and that the company is providing false information to the market.”

In its report, Quintessential called Bio-on “a massive bubble based on flawed technology and fictitious sales thanks to a network of empty shell companies.”

Bio-on is listed on the AIM market, a segment of the Italian stock exchange dedicated to small and medium-sized companies. It produces what it says are environment-friendly plastics for the agri-food, design and cosmetics industries and has a market capitalisation of just over 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion).

Quintessential is a New York-based hedge fund which says it specialises in exposing corporate wrongdoing.

Last year, a report by the fund into Greek jewellery maker Folli Follie led to an investigation from Greek authorities, the resignation of the companies’ founders and the firm seeking protection from creditors. ($1 = 0.8968 euros) (Reporting by Silvia Aloisi Editing by Keith Weir)

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