THG’s chief executive Matt Moulding published a lengthy video on Instagram Tuesday night taking aim at the media, institutional investors, stockbrokers and analysts in the latest escalation of his war with the City’s financial services sector.
Moulding’s video quotes extensively from the Wolf of Wall Street, whilst also seeming to compare THG’s expansion in the face of media criticism to Nelson Mandela’s fight for freedom.
The video was originally produced for internal THG staff, and traces the journey from THG’s founding to its international growth, interspersed with selected media coverage which Moulding appears to have taken issue with, as well as inspirational quotes from movies and speeches.
In one such instance, the video carries the audio from a Denzel Washington speech in which he quotes Nelson Mandela saying “there is no passion to be found, playing small and settling for a life that’s less than the one you’re capable of living” alongside soft-focus images of THG’s new factories.
The scenes from the Wolf of Wall Street – in which the character Mark Hanna describes the stock market as an ethereal ‘fugazi’ – appear to reference THG’s disastrous two and a bit years on the stock market, in which its value has cratered by almost 90 per cent.
Moulding also published the video on his LinkedIn channel.
The video came after the firm announced a half-a-billion pound loss in the last financial year, albeit with record revenues, and a day after it confirmed it had received a preliminary, provisional buyout proposal from American private equity giant Apollo.
THG’s announcement of the approach surprised many, coming as it did in the middle of a trading day and referencing ‘press speculation’ which had not in fact named Apollo.
“A recent negative press against THG & me has had dramatically the opposite effect than intended. A throw-away line in an otherwise typically wildly inaccurate press piece, resulted in a share price spike and an obligation to make an announcement, culminating in a c.45% increase in the share price on the day. Ouch!,” he wrote online.
Moulding has continually complained about the scrutiny that comes with listing a business in London, describing the process as having “sucked” from start to finish.
The video recounts one episode in which the investment bank Numis had to refer itself to the watchdog over an analyst note which went too far, accusing the firm of “irregularities” in its accounting.
In his LinkedIn post, he added: “In simple terms, the UK market has suffered from years of “over-fishing”, where small groups of industry professionals come together to try and damage UK businesses, and their share prices. Nobody tells you about this when joining the LSE, but it finds you soon enough.
“The number of CEOs of other listed companies that have reached out to me since THG joined the LSE is remarkable. Each wanting to share their war stories.”
Shares did indeed spike 40 per cent on Monday, before losing 20 per cent today on news of the losses.