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“Bene not fit for the stock market

Saturday 10 August 2013

An anonymous complaint has been filed against the Austrian quoted office furniture company Bene accusing it of breaching its financial obligations as a quoted company. There are said to be six allegations against the company, which the Economic and Corruption prosecutor and the Financial Market Authority FMA are now investigating including negligent impairment of creditor interests, favoring a creditor and market manipulation.

It has been alleged "that the Bene AG, is insolvent in the face of liabilities of EUR 40 million from a 2009 bond issue, which expires on 29 April 2014, and will be repaid."

Even Manfred Bene, co-owner and chairman of the board of the company is not free from criticism. He is accused that from 2009 until 2012, he wrongly received consultants' fees of 1.302 million euros.
However, the Bene board has stated that it is their "firm conviction that the company and its representatives have always acted properly and lawfully," it says in a written statement. They will be working with the prosecutor to clarify the facts.

According to investors' representative William Rasinger, the Bene's IPO in November 2006 was merely arranged so for the former investors (UIAG Global Equity Partners and former chief Erhard Schaschl Wienerberger) could sell their shares. "The company at that time was not ready for the market," says Rasinger
A look at the stock price tells a sad story. In July 2007, Bene shares were valued at 7 euros but from then on it went steadily downhill. On Friday Bene shares were quoted at 0.501 euros – down 16.5% on the previous day.

The Waidhofen family are currently said to be negotiating with the banks to bring the financial problems under control. That is already "in the final stages," said a Bene spokeswoman. Since the solution is not yet agreed, the results for the year 2013/2014 could not be announced - the date for the annual figures has been postponed again, this time "until October."

In the previous year, Bene posted a loss of 30 million euros. Recently it was announced that 150 jobs will be eliminated.

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