Boss of THG quotes Alanis Morissette as he slams ‘negative press’

‘Isn’t it ironic,’ says Matt Moulding in online polemic taking aim at hedge funds, analysts and the media

The boss of THG has published an online rant quoting 1990s singer Alanis Morissette and claiming it is “standard practice” for hedge funds, analysts and the media to “build negative coverage” against listed companies – including his online retail group – to drive down their share price.

Matt Moulding published the piece on social media accompanied by a video with clips from the Wolf of Wall Street and of US TV host and motivational speaker Steve Harvey.

“The purpose of ‘the game’ is simple: bet that a share price will fall, and make sure you win the bet by doing everything possible to discredit the company,” Moulding wrote on LinkedIn on Tuesday, in a post released on the same day that THG announced annual losses had almost tripled to £550m.

Moulding has previously said he would not float the company if given the opportunity again and that the experience has “just sucked from start to finish”.

Moulding received an £800m-plus share windfall after floating THG and took charge of properties which deliver £19m in rent annually from the group when it floated on the stock exchange in September 2020.

In the video, headlines flash up about THG’s recent deal to sell products linked to its Myprotein dietary supplements in the Iceland grocery chain plus speculation about Moulding buying shares in the company and a funding deal from three banks last year, alongside a soundtrack claiming “the best revenge is massive success”.

THG’s stock soared by 45% on Monday when news emerged it had received a buyout approach from the private equity group Apollo. But shares in the company, formerly known as The Hut Group, fell back almost 20% on Tuesday as it reported mounting losses.

“In the words of Alanis Morissette ‘Isn’t it ironic’,” Moulding said in his LinkedIn post, referencing the singer’s 1996 hit.

“A recent negative press against THG & me has had dramatically the opposite effect than intended.

“A throw-away line in an otherwise typically wildly inaccurate press piece, resulted in a share price spike and an obligation to make an announcement, culminating in a c.45% increase in the share price on the day. Ouch!”

It is not the first time that Moulding has made claims about coordinated attacks on THG’s share price. In January last year, the company shared data with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) over what it claimed was irregular trading of its shares.

THG has been struggling since going public, and analysts point to a string of rows about the firm’s corporate governance and missed financial targets.

“In simple terms, the UK market has suffered from years of ‘over-fishing’, where small groups of industry professionals come together to try and damage UK businesses, and their share prices,” Moulding claimed in the lengthy, wide-ranging post.

He added: “The increasing flurry of companies leaving London, with boards speaking out about the state of the market, is now bringing attention to the problem.”


Sarah Butler

The GuardianTramp

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