EXCLUSIVE: Harvey Norman Franchisees Given Confidential Dick Smith Sales Numbers, As ASIC Probe Collapse
Harvey Norman franchisees have been given the sales records of Dick Smith stores close to where they operate, the information was supplied to Harvey Norman executives by Ferrier Hodgson, who earlier this week met with Australia Securities and Investments Commission executives who are investigating the collapse of the mass retailer.
ChannelNews has been told that the confidential information was handed over to Harvey Norman executives who at the time were evaluating whether to buy the failed retailer, who collapsed with debts of over $500M.
According to two franchisees Harvey Norman management are now looking at franchisees improving their store turnover following the collapse of the mass retailer who is set to start closing stores next week.
According to sources legal representatives for Nick Aboud the former CEO of Dick Smith who has been accused of withholding information relating to losses and poor revenues have been approached by ASIC investigators to arrange an interview with the former CEO.
During the past three months Ferrier Hodgson has been collecting information relating to the collapse of Dick Smith.
The hard drives in computers used by Dick Smith executives are believed to have been removed and searched by ASIC investigators looking for documents that may have been deleted.
ChannelNews has been told that warrants have been sought to obtain mobile messages and call information relating to Dick Smith executives.
The warrants are believed to have been served on carriers and cloud hosting Companies.
What ASIC investigators are doing is building detailed timelines relating to announcements made prior to the Company being floated and after the Company was floated.
We have been told that ASIC has obtained information from former employees and senior management who approached ASIC investigators.
Last week Ferrier Hodgson referred a list of questionable activities to the Australia Securities and Investments Commission. Their actions have been backed by the National Australia Bank and HSBC.
“There are specific issues the receiver is investigating and the receiver has briefed ASIC in relation to these issues,” a Ferrier Hodgson source said.
“And there is a close and ongoing liaison between the receiver and ASIC.” They added.
ASIC is also interested in loans that were made to Dick Smith by the Macquarie Group.
An emergency $30 million loan from Macquarie Group was a key factor behind Dick Smith’s lenders decision to place the electronics company into receivership.
The loan enabled the company to obtain Apple products leading into the Christmas, the majority of this stock went to the Move stores for sale at airports.
At the time Apple had placed Dick Smith on credit hold and had demanded cash up front for stock.
The AFR claims that ASIC has not received a report from the administrator, McGrath Nicol.
Along with Dick Smith’s former private equity owner Anchorage Capital Partners, Mr Abboud may be required to front the Senate inquiry to answer questions about how the retailer went from reporting a $43.4 million full year net profit in August 2015 to a receiver sale in January.
At the release of its full year result in August last year, Dick Smith forecast full year net profit for 2015-16 would increase to between $45 million and $48 million. Less than five months later it was in receivership.