World News – UA – Worley judgment reveals ‘culture of optimism’


Worley employees feared a « culture of fear » within the engineering group in 2013 and lost their jobs if they spoke the truth instead of providing an upbeat financial forecast, judgment Federal Court Revealed After Company Wins Class Action

Federal Court Judge Jacqueline Gleeson on Thursday dismissed a class action lawsuit against Worley that alleged the company misled investors when it cut its earnings forecast in 2013 and ordered ACA Lawyers (now owned by Shine Lawyers) to pay the group’s fees run into millions of dollars

Allens’ partner Belinda Thompson said the dismissal – only the second class action lawsuit in Australia to receive judgment after the Myer class action lawsuit earlier this year – could encourage more companies to defend class actions in court The Myer action was also dismissed

« Recently we have seen better preparation for the current cases », Ms Thompson « In each case they were ultimately successfully defended »

ACA Lawyers filed a $ 50 million class action lawsuit in the NSW Section of the Federal Court against Worley in 2015 He alleged that the company engaged in « deceptive or deceptive behavior » in 2013 because it failed to provide a reasonable explanation as to why its top three reasons for declining profits in November – declining professional services revenues, a cost-cutting program and the downturn in its Australian businesses and Canadian – were « unexpected or unforeseen developments »

Justice Gleeson found that while the basis for the downward revision was « clearly questionable » and Worley’s 2013-2014 budget may have been « too optimistic », it was not convinced that the company’s previous revenue forecast, given in August, lacked « reasonable grounds »

The judgment showed the court recognized the seriousness of the allegations against Worley and was unwilling to accept them without « clear evidence, » Ms Thompson said

However, according to the ruling, Worley’s budgeting process in 2013-2014 under former chief executive Andrew Wood was affected by « a culture of optimism » and there have been instances where some company offices « have inflated their blue sky revenue forecast in order to meet senior management expectations »

Former CFO Simon Holt quizzed employees after Worley slashed guidelines in November 2013 and prepared a memorandum for the audit and corporate risk committee on December 5

Interview notes for the memorandum include comments: « Several passes to forecasting and re-forecasting trying to arrive at a more acceptable result; » « Culture of fear if they speak the truth with consequent staff cuts »; « People have numbered what seems fair rather than fair »; « Excessively high BlueSky number with little proper risk assessment »; and « Lack of transparency, if it’s bad, you have to know that things are going badly !!! »

« BlueSky » was a term used to refer to projects that were not yet known, but that Worley was supposed to be working on and that had a financial value in the budget

The lawsuit alleged Worley could not justify his blue sky forecast, citing the 2013 memorandum which said the company had underperformed its initial budget by 10% or more five times in the past six years

The memorandum stated that some of Worley’s offices were forecasting that ‘hope’ work would materialize rather than ‘any real expectation that our budget assumes all will be well in a world where we know that things will turn out badly « 

Worley’s shares fell 26% to $ 16 on November 20, 2013, reducing its market value by more than $ 1 billion, after Mr. Wood has cut the company’s annual net profit forecast to a new range of $ 260 million to $ 300 million

Investors were surprised by the warning, as the engineering group told shareholders in its August annual results and at its annual general meeting in early October to expect a net profit of at least $ 322 million

An amended statement, filed in mid-2018, alleged that executives at Worley knew in mid-August 2013 that the company’s 2013-2014 group budget – which then projected annual net profits of $ 352 million dollars – would be difficult to achieve, and that the oil companies cut their capital spending

He also alleged that Worley knew that resource companies were postponing projects and that results in Canada were not meeting expectations

Worley hired a new CFO, former Transurban executive Tom Honan, in December 2015, to replace Mr. Holt, who left Company M Wood retired in February and was replaced by Chris Ashton

In the ACA case, investor Larry Crowley, a self-funded retiree and former accountant who manages his own portfolio of stocks, is named plaintiff M Crowley acquired 423 Worley shares on October 4, 2013 when they were trading around $ 2368, paying $ 10,047 for them

The judgment concluded that Mr. Crowley had failed to demonstrate that Worley had violated any of the statutory rules against deceptive and deceptive behavior

Worley, who will hold his annual general meeting on Friday, denied that there was a proper basis for the claim and tried to prevent the action from continuing, but the Federal Court ordered the case to proceed continued in 2017

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Worley Class Action, Jacqueline Gleeson

World News – UA – Worley judgment reveals « culture of optimism »


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