On 31 March 2020, Slater and Gordon commenced a group proceeding (class action) against Treasury Wine Estates Limited (TWE). The class action is on behalf of persons that acquired TWE securities from 30 June 2018 to the release of a market announcement made late on 28 January 2020.
The proceeding alleges that eligible shareholders have claims against TWE in relation to losses suffered following the Company’s announcement to the ASX after close of trade on 28 January 2020. In its announcement, TWE disclosed the following in relation to the financial year ended 30 June 2020 (FY20):
- TWE's earnings before interest, tax, SGARA and material items (EBITS) growth was now expected to be at a rate of 5% to 10%;
- TWE's Americas division reported a 17% decline in EBITS to $98.3m and an EBITS margin of 16.1%.
(together, the FY20 Downgrade).
The proceeding relates to TWE’s conduct between the period 30 June 2018 to 28 January 2020 (inclusive). Investors who purchased shares in Treasury during this period are group members in the proceeding.
I purchased shares in Treasury Wine Estates between 30 June 2018 and 28 January 2020 – how do I participate in the class action?
The claim has been issued on an open class basis, so that all individuals who meet the group member definition are automatically group members and can be involved in the class action.
However, it is likely that the Court will require group members who wish to claim an entitlement to a share of any settlement sum or damages award to register their participation in the class action.
If you purchased your shares in the period from 30 June 2018 to 28 January 2020, you are a group member in the class action and can register for the claim here.
You can also register in or opt out of the class action in a process that will be facilitated by the Supreme Court of Victoria at a later time.
Consolidation of the two class actions against Treasury Wine Estates
A second class action was filed against Treasury Wine Estates by Maurice Blackburn Lawyers on behalf of the lead plaintiff, Steven Napier, in respect of the same claim period and with substantially similar allegations.
On 15 October 2020, the Court consolidated the two class actions into a single proceeding, with the effect that:
- the Consolidated Proceeding is now brought by both plaintiffs jointly. The first plaintiff is Brett Stallard as trustee for the Stallard Superannuation Fund and the second plaintiff is Mr Steven Napier (together, the Joint Plaintiffs); and
- Slater and Gordon and Maurice Blackburn Lawyers are jointly named as solicitors for the Joint Plaintiffs and are working together jointly to conduct the Consolidated Proceeding on behalf of all group members. This will be the sixth time to date that the two firms have worked together on a shareholder class action.
The Joint Plaintiffs have now filed a Consolidated Statement of Claim, which aligns the allegations and claims made in the two class actions into a single statement of claim.
What is the claim about?
On 14 February 2019, TWE released to the ASX a document entitled Interim 2019 Results, in which the company stated that an EBITS growth rate of approximately 15% to 20% was expected for FY20 (the EBITS Growth Representation).
On 15 August 2019, TWE released to the ASX a document entitled 2019 Annual Results Announcement, in which the company:
- repeated the EBITS Growth Representation;
- said that group FY20 EBITS result would be delivered by growth in all markets, through continued top line growth and premiumisation as well as ongoing operational efficiency
(together, the FY20 Guidance)
On 16 October 2019, TWE released to the ASX a copy of the investor presentation and speaking notes from its Annual General Meeting, in which it reaffirmed the FY20 Guidance.
On 28 January 2020, TWE released the FY20 Downgrade.
The market’s reaction to the FY20 Downgrade was substantial, with the price of TWE shares falling by approximately 20% over the following trading days.
The proceeding alleges that TWE contravened its obligations of continuous disclosure and engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct, breaching relevant provisions of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth).