Freedom Foods Group has advised the ASX that its voluntary trading halt will remain in place until 30 October while it investigates it financial position. 

Chair Perry Gunner had advised of the original suspension following CEO Rory Macleod’s resignation on 29 June, following the shock resignation of CFO Campbell Nicholas and revelations company inventory write-downs were potentially in excess of $60 million.

In a statement to the ASX, acting CFO and Group GM Corporate Development Stephanie Graham said the board thought the almost three-month extension was warranted to provide comprehensive and up-to-date information on the impact historical issues will have on the company’s financial position as well as its outlook. Share trading should also not recommence until more clarity can be provided, she said.

Graham said a number of interconnected activities need to be completed, with significant items including finding a new CEO and CFO.

Thorough investigation into the historical issues identified on 25 June, 29 May and 9 March need to be completed, as well as the annual accounts audit and whether there has been any impact on previous reporting periods.

A revised guidance for FY21 needs to be prepared, incorporating any ongoing impacts from COVID-19 and potential operational improvements, strategic and product initiatives.

Also, the completion of any necessary capital initiatives to ensure the company’s balance sheet strength and financial flexibility, which could include amending its syndicated and bilateral banking facilities.

Graham said significant resources and time would be required to reach a point where all of these factors have been addressed.

The company retains the confidence of its major shareholder, the Perich family, who hold 54 per cent of the business.

Packaging News

The former CEO of Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO), Brooke Donnelly, has been appointed as general manager, Sustainability at Coles Group, and will start in the role on 3 October.

Digital flexibles packaging print producer ePac will build a second plant in Australia or New Zealand within 18 months, with the location yet be decided.

Orora’s Australian packaging operation delivered what the company said was a robust result for the financial year, with glass finding new markets, but it was in the US where the big growth took place.