RPC Group PLC (LON:RPC) saw its shares tick higher on Monday after press reports said Fraser Perring, the short-seller whose research group uncovered financial irregularities at South African retailer Steinhoff is targeting the FTSE 250-listed plastics group.
The Sunday Times said Fraser Perring claims RPC has used a string of acquisitions to mask falling earnings, utilising “aggressive accounting” processes to make its end-of-year figures look artificially healthier.
The newspaper said Perring has taken an undisclosed short position in the firm, which is currently being shorted by around 5% of its shareholders, according to the latest data.
RPC is currently in talks with two private equity groups about potential buyout offers, having revealed in September it was holding talks with Apollo Global Management and Bain Capital.
At the start of November, the UK Panel on Takeover and Mergers extended the deadline for both firms to make a bid for RPC to 5pm on 5 December, the second extension since the original deadline set for October 8.
Back in July, RPC – which makes engineering parts, and packaging for drinks, food and cosmetics – said it would look at proposed disposals to generate capital for expansion or to return cash to shareholders following investor disagreements over its acquisition strategy.
Meanwhile, accountancy regulator the Financial Reporting Council contacted RPC in June in connection with its compliance with reporting requirements.
Perring first came into the spotlight last December after a detailed report about Steinhoff that revealed accounting irregularities saw the retailer’s shares plunge by 85% and prompting its boss Markus Jooste to resign.
In late morning trading on Monday, RPC shares were 0.3% higher at 762.20p.