Shares in listed dealer group Lookers were suspended at 7.30am today as the company failed to deliver its accounts for 2019 by the end of June.
The troubled dealer group is amidst an internal fraud investigation and has already revealed this week it will book a £19m hit to profits relating to findings of that report.
In an announcement to the Stock Market today, the second largest dealer group in UK said: ‘As announced on June 8, the company and Deloitte concluded that the additional procedures they needed to perform to finalise the company’s audited financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2019 meant that it would not be possible for the company to publish the results by June 30.
‘Following consultation with the FCA, the company has requested that the listing of the ordinary shares be temporarily suspended with effect from 7.30am on July 1 until the publication of the 2019 results.’
Lookers said it intends to request a restoration of its listing on publication of the results.
The statement added: ‘The company’s priority and focus is the production of the 2019 results at the earliest possible date.’
Mike Jones, chairman of accountants ASE Global, said: ‘While it is disappointing for Lookers to have to suspend trading in their shares, we know they are nearing the conclusion of the fraud investigation.
‘It is important to finalise 2019’s accounts and focus on improving the internal control procedures to ensure that these errors are not repeated.
‘The company can then focus on finalising the FCA investigation and rebuilding the internal operations team, returning to profitable trading, backed up by a significantly more robust control environment.’
Earlier this week the company held its AGM where non executive directors Sally Cabrini and Richard Walker both stood down from the board.
They had stood for election in the original AGM calling notice, issued on June 4 – but changed their mind and just 20 days later it was announced they would be stepping back.
Cabrini was chair of the company’s renumeration committee and Walker was a senior independent non-exec and also a member of the renumeration committee.
It is not known why they both changed their mind.
Lookers is reeling from a series of problems. The fraud investigation has only been seen in draft form by the company and led to this week’s further profit hit.
Its auditors Deloitte have said they will resign and Car Dealer Magazine previously reported the dealer group is in crunch talks with a consortium of banks over its future.
It’s likely Lookers will be swallowed up by a rival dealer in the UK, or an investor from abroad, but all will want to ‘look under the hood’, as one investor put it before they do. None of them will be able to do that until last year’s results are finalised.
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