18 Dec 2020

Air New Zealand censured and fined $40k for breaching NZX disclosure rules

9:45 am on 18 December 2020

Air New Zealand has been censured and penalised $40,000 for breaching Stock Exchange (NZX) rules about disclosing sensitive information to investors.

Air New Zealand planes

Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon

The Market Disciplinary Tribunal said the airline gave details to staff and media in early June about possible savings from laying off up to a third of its workforce.

But it said the information was not given to the NZX for distribution through its platforms until the next trading day, which was a Monday.

"After investigation, NZX concluded that the labour cost reduction target mentioned in the CEO's Message was material information, and so Air New Zealand had breached its obligations ... by not releasing material Information promptly and without delay and by releasing this information through means other than MAP (NZX information system)."

NZX rules require listed companies to disclose any price sensitive information to all investors through the stock exchange, to ensure the investing market is fully, fairly, and equally informed.

It said there were 2,520 trades in Air New Zealand shares in the afternoon the information was disclosed, but there was no evidence that any investors were either harmed or benefited from the breach.

However, the NZX said it accepted there were extenuating circumstances.

"The breach took place in the context of unique and extraordinary pressures on the business as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The uncertainty surrounding the duration, scale and impact of the pandemic, and the rapid changes required to respond to evolving government measures, have had a particularly significant impact on the airline industry."

The breach carried a possible maximum penalty of $500,000.

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