A cloud of uncertainty surrounded the position of the Managing Director, Cadbury Nigeria Plc, Mr. Bunmi Oni, on Tuesday, as investigations into the discrepancies in the accounts of the company continued.
Workers, who spoke with our correspondents on the condition of anonymity, said that the managing director had since travelled outside the country although they could not give the details.
However, the Public Relations Manager, Cadbury Nigeria, Mr. Kufre Ekanem, refused to comment on the development when our correspondents called him on the phone on Tuesday.
When asked to confirm speculation that Oni had travelled outside the country, he said, ÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¢ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…Â¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¬ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œWe should not individualise this issue. It is not true. We should wait for the report of the investigations.ÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¢ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…Â¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¬ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â
Kufre assured our correspondents that the report of the probe would be ready before December 12 when the Cadbury Schweppes Group would brief the London Stock Exchange on the overstatements.
In a related development, the Nigerian Stock Exchange on Tuesday, said that it had frozen the share price of Cadbury Nigeria to protect investors against losses from any negative reaction to the current investigations into the companyÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¢ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…Â¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¬ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…Â¾Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¢s accounts.
The Chairman, Cadbury Nigeria, Mr. Uduimo Itsueli, had last Thursday, said that an independent accounting firm, Price Waterhouse Coopers, had been appointed to investigate discrepancies discovered in the companyÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¢ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…Â¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¬ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…Â¾Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¢s financials during an internal review in October.
Expectedly, the share price of Cadbury immediately dipped by over N2 to close at N54.15 per share, which led to the NSEÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¢ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…Â¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¬ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…Â¾Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¢s action designed to forestall further dip in the price.
The NSE said it had placed the stock on technical suspension to forestall any movement in the price.
The Senior Manager, Corporate Affairs, NSE, Mr. Sola Oni, who confirmed the price freeze in an interview with our correspondent, said it was done as part of investorsÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¢ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…Â¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¬ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…Â¾Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¢ protection strategies of the Exchange.
He said, ÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¢ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…Â¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¬ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThe Exchange has been informed about the current development in the company. Such development is price sensitive because some investors may begin to dump shares without waiting for details.ÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¢ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…Â¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¬ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â - punch