ASIC has commenced proceedings in the Federal Court against Nuix Limited (ASX:NXL) for alleged continuous disclosure breaches and misleading or deceptive conduct. ASIC has also brought proceedings against members of the Nuix board for breaches of their directors’ duties.
ASIC alleges that Nuix made misleading or deceptive statements when reaffirming its Prospectus financial year 2021 forecasts for statutory revenue and for annualised contract value (ACV) in announcements to the ASX on 26 February 2021 and 8 March 2021.
ASIC alleges that at the time of these announcements, Nuix was aware that ACV for financial year 2021 was likely to be materially below forecast, which made those announcements misleading and gave rise to the need for corrective disclosure.
ASIC Chair Joseph Longo said ‘Nuix was a newly listed technology company with a complex business model. This meant investors relied heavily on the company making accurate and timely disclosures regarding its earnings.’
ASIC also alleges that Nuix breached its continuous disclosure obligations including by failing to:
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- disclose its first half financial year 2021 ACV result from 18 January 2021 until 26 February 2021 when it published its half year results;
- make corrective disclosure regarding the announcements made to the ASX on 26 February and 8 March 2021, or announce a downgrade;
- announce a downgrade to its Prospectus forecasts from 13 April 2021 after financial year 2021 ACV and statutory revenue had been reforecast. A downgrade was not announced until 21 April 2021.
Nuix shares totalling $1.2 billion were traded during the period of the contraventions alleged by ASIC.
‘Nuix’s ACV result at the end of the first half showed that, far from growing rapidly at 18.5 per cent as the company had forecast for the full year, Nuix’s underlying business as measured by ACV had essentially shrunk by almost 4 per cent over the first half. It took the company over a month, until 26 February 2021, to disclose this material information to the market. Nuix had an obligation to promptly disclose this information,’ said Mr Longo.
ASIC further alleges that Nuix’s directors breached their directors’ duties by failing to take reasonable steps to prevent Nuix from making misleading statements and breaching its continuous disclosure obligations. Nuix directors who ASIC alleges breached their duties are Jeffrey Bleich (Chair), Rodney Vawdrey, Susan Thomas, Daniel Phillips and Sir Iain Lobban.
ASIC is seeking declarations, pecuniary penalties and disqualification orders from the Federal Court.
ASIC has also concluded its investigation into suspected insider trading in relation to trading in Nuix shares in 2021 and has decided no further action will be taken.