Class Action – Vocus Group (ASX:VOC)
ICP, which is uniquely focused exclusively on ASX shareholder claims, is managing a shareholder class action run by Slater & Gordon Lawyers on behalf of aggrieved Vocus investors who suffered losses due to alleged breaches of disclosure obligations and misleading and deceptive conduct.
Background to the allegations
Vocus is one of Australia’s largest telecommunications companies, and has traded on the ASX since 2010. Vocus held its Annual General Meeting on 29 November 2016, and provided guidance for FY17 as follows:
- Revenue: $1.9bn
- EBITDA: $430m – $450m;
- Underlying NPAT: $205m – $215m.
On 22 February 2017 Vocus re-iterated the FY17 guidance and expressed confidence in its ability to deliver. On 2 May 2017, Vocus downgraded its FY17 guidance as follows:
- Revenue: $1.8bn
- EBITDA: $365m – $375m;
- Underlying NPAT: $160m – $165m,
(together, the FY17 Downgrade). The company reported that the FY17 Downgrade was a result of the following factors:
- “impact of lower than forecast billings combined with an increase in service delivery headcount in the Enterprise & Wholesale division”;
- “higher than forecast expenses in Group Services, primarily technology”;
- the revenue associated with a number of large projects included in the 2H17 forecast would be predominately recognised in future periods following an accounting review;
- “lower earnings than forecast from the Mass Market energy business following the volatility created by extreme weather events in 3QFY17”;
- “other trading variances across the Group”.
The claim is based on allegations that Vocus is likely to have been aware of some of the factors noted in the FY17 Downgrade back from at least 29 November 2016, consequently misleading the market with its FY17 Guidance. In particular, that:
- on and from 29 November 2016, Vocus engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct, in contravention of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth), by providing the FY17 Guidance when it did not have reasonable grounds for doing so; and
- from 29 November 2016 onward, Vocus breached its obligations of continuous disclosure, in contravention of the Corporations Act 2001, by failing to disclose that it would not achieve the FY17 Guidance.
Parties who purchased shares in Vocus between 29 November 2016 and 2 November 2017 (the “Period”).
Capacity to Join
Registration closes on 13 August 2019.
- Cooperation with Vocus – we have reached agreement with Vocus regarding a less adversarial, more streamlined class action management process, designed to fast-track meaningful settlement discussions. The parties agreed to undertake an alternative dispute resolution process, involving the early provision of relevant documents to Slater and Gordon Lawyers and referral of the proceeding to early mediation.
- Court consent to fast-track – The proceeding was commenced in the Federal Court of Australia, Melbourne registry on Wednesday 24 April 2019 on behalf of the lead Applicants, Michael and Tracey Fisher as trustees for the Tramik Super Fund Trust. It has been allocated to Justice Moshinsky. Herbert Smith Freehills are acting for Vocus, with the Court granting consent to proceed with prior agreed dates for registration, opt-out and mediation. Mediation is to occur by 23 October 2019.
- Court Notice to VOC shareholders – as part of the fast-track, the Court has ordered a notice be distributed by Computershare (the Vocus shareholder registry service provider) to VOC shareholders on 11 June 2019. The notice, titled “Notice to Group Members”, provides information to all VOC shareholders that purchased VOC shares during the Claim Period (being 29 November 2016 to 2 May 2017 (inclusive)) regarding registration and opt-out (the “Notice”).