Agria says it will fight New York Stock Exchange delisting
Chinese company Agria Corporation, 50 per cent owner of New Zealand agricultural company PGG Wrightson (PGW), has vowed to fight a decision by the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) to delist it.
The NYSE has announced it allegedly uncovered evidence a "top executive and other intermediaries" artificially inflated the company's stock price.
NYSE said it had evidence the top executive and intermediaries engaged in trading intended to artificially inflate Agria's stock price, "including to improperly avoid having the company delisted for failing to comply with NYSE's continued listing standards requiring companies to maintain an average stock price of at least $1 per share over a consecutive 30 day trading period".
According to the NYSE, Agria also provided incomplete, misleading, or false information in connection with investigations related to these issues.
Agria said in a statement on Thursday that it disagreed with the NYSE statements and intended to challenge the NYSE's investigation findings and conclusions.
"The company is in the process of appealing to the committee of the board of directors of the NYSE, and will continue to work with the NYSE during the appeal process," Agria said.
Agria was founded in 2004 by Alan Lai, the chairman of both Agria and PGW. There are four Agria directors on the PGW board. Listed on the NYSE, it is registered in the Cayman Islands for tax purposes and its major asset is PGW, one of the largest agricultural services companies in New Zealand with an annual turnover of $1.3 billion and 2200 staff.
Its operations include livestock, wool, grain and seed, animal nutrition, rural supplies, irrigation, insurance, real estate marketing, farm consulting and training. Besides New Zealand, PGW also has a presence in Australia, Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina
The three independent directors of PGW - Bruce Irvine, John Nichol and Ronald Seah - are assessing the implications of the announcement on PGW's operations.
A spokeswoman said they were not prepared to comment, but would do so soon by way of an announcement on the NZX.
Agria said it had also received a subpoena from the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in December last year in connection with a non-public investigation.
"The SEC's subpoena is focused on, among other things, Agria's historic and ongoing business operations in China," Agria said, "although the investigation should not be construed as an indication that the company or any of its officers or directors had violated any of the federal securities laws".
Agria became a cornerstone shareholder of PGW in 2011, which posted an after-tax profit of $39.6 million for the 2015-16 year.