THG shares enjoyed a brief moment in the sun on Monday morning before slumping once again, at the market’s first trading opportunity since CEO Matthew Moulding spilled the beans on Friday about his regrets for the group’s IPO.
Topping off what has been a tumultuous few weeks for the ecommerce group, Moulding revealed that he wished he’d never floated THG in its £5.4bn London listing last year, which he said had “just sucked from start to finish”, in an explosive interview with GQ on Friday afternoon.
Asked if he’d list the company again if given the option, Moulding said: “Shit, no. No. I wouldn’t.”
But the ecommerce boss struggled to see why investors had lost faith in the group since IPO.
“There are very few companies where an individual sets a company up. I’ve done it the right way. I’ve done nothing wrong,” Moulding said.
“I’ve created 14,000 jobs, given a billion pounds to staff, who’ve sold most of their shares, done loads of things – everything in Britain, tried to support Britain – and, you know, it’s just sucked from start to finish.”
Hinting that he could take the business private if the share price doesn’t recover, Moulding also admitted that the decision to list with him at the helm as the chairman, chief executive, biggest shareholder and landlord was largely down to “naivety”.
Appearing not to have learned his lesson from a disastrous investor presentation at the company’s “capital markets day” last month that saw him pin the blame for THG’s share price volatility on short sellers, he took aim at the investors once again and likened them to criminals.
Asked about the group’s 70 per cent share price cash that knocked £6bn off THG’s market value in the last two months, Moulding said:
“The last few weeks have been even more interesting, I guess: we’ve had a pretty aggressive short attack. You wouldn’t rob banks any more – you’d just do short attacks, you can get away with it, it’s legal.”
It comes after shares in THG fell to a record low of 198p last week when the group’s largest institutional shareholder Blackrock sold 58m shares – almost half of its stake.
“Now that difficult questions are being asked about costs and more, particularly if the business is broken up into three as per the suggestion from THG, investors aren’t getting the answers they want – or they are not liking what they see,” said Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell.
Investor confidence took a significant downturn in late September after the group said it planned to spin off its beauty division in a separate listing in 2022, and was also considering a stock market listings for its other main ecommerce business, as well as its technology and logistics divisions.
But Moulding was adamant that this strategic decision was not to blame for the group’s share price crash and took aim at those reporting on it.
“It didn’t spook investors,” he told GQ.
“What you’ve got to remember is whatever gets written almost never – and apologies to all the journalists – but it’s not really correct.”
Moulding has made a series of moves to rebuild investor trust over the last couple of weeks, first ditching his controversial “golden share” in the company, and then dropping his pledge of shares in the business against a £100m personal loan with Barclays.
And all in all, the THG boss admitted that the company’s recent rocky period had been “a shitty time”, but divulged his secret coping strategy:
“I go to the gym every single day and I do Spanish every day on my phone.”