Aspen’s share price started to plummet on Tuesday as rumours in the market suggest it may be the next company to be scrutinised by Viceroy Research, a small firm operating from New York. This comes in the wake of a number of damning allegations made by Viceroy about Steinhoff last year.
Aspen lost almost 10% of its value by 1:15 pm on Tuesday, where it was trading at R236.20. Its slump began close to market open.
Viceroy has also promised, via social media platform Twitter, another report on a South African company in the new year:
Viceroy will be flying out the gates in 2018, and we won't be slowing down.
— Viceroy (@viceroyresearch) December 29, 2017
Some of the team was recently, and may still be, visiting South Africa:
With some of Viceroy in South Africa at the moment, our heartfelt condolences go to all those who have lost or had loved ones hurt in the train crash near Kroonstad. https://t.co/RcIEDQyz7J
— Viceroy (@viceroyresearch) January 5, 2018
According to sources Moneyweb has spoken to, Aspen shares similar characteristics to that of Steinhoff, namely ongoing problems and investigations by regulators in various parts of the world, a serial acquirer, large amounts of debt and accounts that are not as transparent and easy to comprehend as some investors would like.
Aspen reacted by publishing a Sens on Tuesday afternoon that stated the following:
MARKET SPECULATION ON VICEROY RESEARCH REPORT
Aspen has become aware that there is market speculation regarding a possible report into Aspen being undertaken by Viceroy Research, a research group which published an exposé on Steinhoff recently.
Aspen shareholders are advised that it has had no contact with Viceroy Research and, as such, is unable to confirm that this speculation is correct. Aspen furthermore advises that it is not aware of any information of a price sensitive nature that requires communication to shareholders and that trading in the current financial year has been consistent with the prospects communicated to shareholders in the 2017 financial year results announcement as published on SENS on 14 September 2017.
Moneyweb has been unable to confirm from Viceroy as to whether it will be publishing a report on Aspen. It is also unclear from its report on Steinhoff whether it engaged with management, and if it did, whether it engaged representing themselves as Viceroy.