MACMAHON Holdings has called in the corporate regulator to investigate a ”false” email chain after rumours of a takeover offer forced the company into a trading halt.
The Perth-based construction and mining contractor told its lawyers to raise its concerns with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and the stock exchange after being alerted to an email chain purporting to document a Chinese joint venture proposing a ”formal takeover offer for Macmahon at a substantial premium”.
”Macmahon has no knowledge of who created the false emails and has instructed its lawyers to raise this matter with the ASX and ASIC,” the company said in a statement.
The incident echoes a takeover bid, purported to be from a British private equity firm, targeting department store chain David Jones three months ago.
The retailer’s share price soared after it disclosed the approach, before plunging after it discovered it was a hoax, leading to criticism of the board’s handling of the incident.
When asked if the ”false” Macmahon takeover, following on the heels of the David Jones bid, was a sign that rogue traders were increasingly using fake takeover bids as a ploy to profit illegally from movements in the market, ASIC said it ”does not comment on operational matters”.
”ASIC commends Macmahon Holdings for the clarity of its statement,” it told BusinessDay.
After learning of the false email chain circulating yesterday morning, Macmahon requested a trading halt ”given the heightened risk of trading occurring on the back of false information”.
”Macmahon confirms to the market that no such discussions about a possible offer have taken place,” the company said. ”There was no truth to the matters referred to in the emails and … the emails themselves were false.”
Macmahon shares had risen 0.5¢ to 29¢ before the halt was called.
ASX spokeswoman Kristen Kaus said: ”We granted the company a trading halt to prevent creation of a false market after the company became aware of the false takeover emails. The company managed their continuous disclosure obligations appropriately.”
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