BREAKING: Americana discovers deficit of 20 billion reais; Resignation of the CEO and the CFO
Geraldo Samur and Pedro Arbex
Americanas today said it had discovered “accounting discrepancies” in its balance sheet that could have a relative value of up to R$20 billion. This discovery led, in a preliminary investigation, to the resignation of CEO Sergio Real and CFO André Cofer from their positions. The two were sworn in just 9 days ago.
Americanas’ board named João Guerra — a company veteran who did not report directly to the CEO or work in finance — as interim CEO and IR director. The findings focus in particular on Americana’s debt to its suppliers, which may have been underestimated in recent years.
The focus is on the type of transaction in which the bank pays the company’s supplier, who subsequently owes the bank directly. According to the company, the estimate is that the monetary impact of the discrepancies is insignificant. Americana shares are worth R$14 billion, but the initial R$20 billion will not necessarily be deducted from equity.
This value may include zeros which may still be on, but only investigation will determine the true value of the problem. In a statement sent to employees, Americana said it had 8 billion reais in cash and would continue to pay its suppliers for the specified period.
The auditor responsible for the completeness of Americana’s balance sheet in recent years is PricewaterhouseCoopers. A board committee is investigating the issue internally, with support from PricewaterhouseCoopers itself.
Prior to the leadership change, Americana’s leadership consisted of a group of executives who had worked together for more than two decades, including former CEO Miguel Gutierrez; Anna Saikali, President, Ame Digital; Timothy Barros, Head of Stores and Chief Financial Officer; and Marcio Cruz, who ran B2W.
A source close to the company told the Brazil Journal that it was not yet clear whether the messages in question fell into a gray area of accounting rules or if they actually constituted fraud. In any case, the discovery of “inconsistencies” should make the market wonder whether the same accounting practices are adopted by other companies.
Industry CFOs should already be preparing for tomorrow. This episode is also a blow for the Brazilian capital market, since the company’s float is mainly made up of international investors, including Blackrock, Vanguard and Wells Fargo. Americana shares have been one of the worst retail stocks over the past two years as the company has steadily lost market value.
The company ended the day with a market value of 11 billion reais. “The company is talking about everything it knows at this point,” said a person familiar with the events. Americana’s major shareholders – Carlos Alberto Secubera, Marcel Telles and Jorge Paulo Lehmann, who have worked with the company for more than 40 years – said they would continue to support the company and that Real would advise them on resolving the issue. . Tomorrow at 9 a.m., Real will host a conference call with the market organized by BTG.