Maurice Blackburn investigates class action following sharp fall in Treasury wines share price
5 February 2020
Australia’s leading class action law firm Maurice Blackburn Lawyers is again investigating a potential shareholder class action against listed wine giant Treasury Wine Estates (ASX: TWE) for possible breaches of market disclosure laws.
The latest investigation follows Maurice Blackburn’s successful class action against Treasury which resolved in 2017 with a $49 million settlement in favour of shareholders.
Both the new Maurice Blackburn investigation and the previous class action involve market disclosures about the company’s business in the United States, and the health of its Commercial (sub $10) wine category, which were followed by sharp falls in TWE’s share price. Back in 2013, the problems led to a $160m provision and the destruction by steamroller of a vast quantity of excess aged wine held by US distributors.
The latest potential claim concerns Treasury’s ASX announcement on 28 January 2020 in which the company:
downgraded its 2020 earnings growth forecast from an anticipated rate of 15% - 20% down to 5% - 10%;
reported a decline in first-half 2020 earnings in the Americas to $98.3m, a decline of over 26% from the previous year on a constant currency basis; and
discussed problems in its Americas wine business, including leadership changes and a “loss of execution momentum”; US wine market dynamics; and stated a need to “manage our US and Commercial wine business differently”.
Following the announcement, TWE’s share price tanked 20 per cent over two days.
Maurice Blackburn’s investigation will consider whether there was a reasonable basis for that guidance, and whether Treasury ought to have made a corrective disclosure regarding it or regarding matters relating to its Americas wine division and Commercial wine in particular, sooner than 28 January 2020.
Maurice Blackburn class actions Principal Miranda Nagy, who also conducted the previous class action against Treasury between 2015 and 2017, said the latest announcement raised serious questions about Treasury’s disclosure culture.
“Like this recent announcement, the earlier class action we ran against Treasury also concerned an alleged failure to disclose serious problems in the Americas, particularly in Treasury’s Commercial wine. We are investigating whether the facts are connected and whether has Treasury learned its lessons from the past,” Ms Nagy said.
“Treasury shareholders would naturally have expected a high standard from the company after the events that prompted the last class action. If Treasury has breached continuous disclosure laws, we will be looking to take action to assist investors once again to obtain financial redress for their losses.”
Shareholders who purchased Treasury shares from 14 February 2019 to 28 January 2020 are eligible to register interest with Maurice Blackburn in the potential class action.