// Pets at Home has been accused of being untruthful over a £34m loan
// The retailer has been criticised by a US investor for making its finances appear more secure
// Pets at Home has denied these allegations
Pets at Home has reportedly been criticised by a short-seller over claims it was misleading about a £34 million loan, which made its finances appear more secure than they are.
The pets goods retailer saw its shares drop as much as 13 per cent after the attack from Texas-based investor Bonitas Research over the its financial statements, before recovering slightly to be six per cent down at 237p, The Telegraph reported.
Bonitas Research has said that Pets at Home used undisclosed loans to support its profits, therefore being untruthful to investors about its financial health.
- Pets at Home “not immune to Covid-19 challenges,” CEO says
- Stores could reopen as early as June, Boris Johnson says
Pets at Home hit back at the US firm and said it was drawing attention to a “historic” issue that had been dealt with.
The retailer has denied all claims of misleading investors.
Almost 4.5 per cent of the retailer’s shares are on loan to short-sellers, meaning they would make money if it runs into trouble.
In 2018, Morgan Stanley analysts raised concerns over the company’s tie-ups with vet practices, which it runs as joint ventures alongside their independent owners.
This concern has also been raised again by Bonitas Research in a statement on the investor’s website.
Pets at Home has restructured its vet practices under chief executive Peter Pritchard, who joined the retailer in 2018.
Short sellers were betting even more heavily against the firm in late 2018, when 14.3 per cent of shares were out on loan.
A Pets at Home spokesperson told Retail Gazette: “This refers to an historic view of operating loans to joint venture practices, first highlighted in the company’s 2017 Annual Report.”
“It has been addressed by the new management team who have taken considerable action to successfully recalibrate the vet business and put it on a firmer footing for the future.
“This has included simplifications to the fee structure between the joint venture practices and Pets at Home, buying out or closing specific joint venture practices and slowing the rollout of new practices.
“The company’s clear progress with this strategy has been demonstrated and disclosed in its results over the past 18 months.”