Samsonite are in big trouble, as minority shareholder reports alleged tax fraud and CEO resigns

Samsonite are in big trouble. First, Blue Orca Capital, a minority shareholder, accused the company of tax fraud; then their stock was suspended, more than once, at Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Finally yet importantly, CEO Ramesh Tainwala has just resigned. Blue Orca Capital, a short selling research company, recently founded by Soren Aandahl, previously co-founder of Glaucus Research, submitted a very detailed report (48 pages) over Samsonite and their manager. Looking at the report more closely, Blue Orca Capital accused the company, headquartered in Luxembourg, of several false accounting, to pump up profits intentionally. They also reported over several transaction deals supposedly authorized by CEO Ramesh Tainwala, adding that the suitcase brand, which is actually a big discount one, is being traded at luxury estimates. Samsonite replied by remarking that the report, submitted by Blue Orca, is unilateral and misleading: this did not prevent the stock suspension at Hong Kong Stock Exchange though. Although Tainwala officially resigned for personal reasons, the company’s board wants to look into accusations against him; his leaving therefore “aims at the best both for the company and its shareholders”. Samsonite also issued a nine-page release to reply to Blue Orca allegations, reaffirming that the above-mentioned report is unilateral and misleading and adding that Kpmg, their own auditor, did not change his mind nor he said he would. Last week, former CEO Tainwala protested his innocence, while talking to Reuters, stressing that “all accusations are mischievous and false”. Financial manager Kyle Gendreau is going to act as provisional chief executive officer. In 2018 first quarter, Samsonite’s revenues, coming from sales, reached 888 million dollars (around 764 million euros), increasing by 15,5%; as for adjusted ebitda, it amounted to 122,9 million dollars, therefore going up compared to the previous year (110,4 million dollars). In particular, net sales carried out by American Tourister brand increased by 58,2%; as regards Samsonite and Tumi brands, they went up respectively by 7,2% and 14,4%.


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