UK online retailer THG has released information to regulators about a coordinated attack on the share price of billionaire founder Matthew Molding.
THG, formerly known as Hut Group, disclosed data to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) about the allegedly irregular trading of its shares.
THG went public as one of the UK’s greatest tech hits, but held out red-hot for twelve months after investors questioned its worth.
After rising from Â£ 5.6bn in value on its first day on the London Stock Exchange to Â£ 13bn in January 2021, it slumped in the fall to hit Â£ 2.8bn on Friday.
Most of THG’s revenue comes from retail websites like makeup seller Lookfantastic and sports nutrition website MyProtein.
Molding had its hopes on the growth of Ingenuity, a division that creates direct-to-consumer websites for other companies.
It is believed that some of the data submitted by THG to the FCA relates to trading patterns on October 12, the day of a sharp decline in prices. The data transfer was first reported by the Sunday Times.
Molding said THG was exposed to a “fairly aggressive short attack” and compared short selling (where investors bet on falling stock prices) to a bank robbery in an interview with GQ magazine last year.
The company has so far released little evidence to support its claims of a coordinated attack.
THG released data after the regulator contacted them as part of an investigation into the actions of a seller at Numis, a stockbroker in the City of London.
Numis was one of the investment banks to go public on THG in September 2020, but the company’s analysts’ view turned negative. In October 2021, a Numis analyst attributed the stock to a value of 235 pence following the investor presentation by Molding. Their value fell to 194 pence on Friday.
In November, shortly after THG shares hit a record low, but a few weeks after the initial slump, a Numis salesman sent his customers a note about THG containing references to “accounting irregularities.” However, Numis quickly withdrew the notes he called “inaccuracies” and removed the reference to irregularities in the accounting.
A Numis spokesperson confirmed in November that the company had corrected the note to customers and apologized. Numis declined to comment further. THG and the FCA declined to comment.