Sainsbury’s share price down as group denies Egypt legal case against CEO
Sainsbury’s (LON:SBRY) share price fell this morning after a media report claimed that Mike Coupe, its chief executive, had been handed a two-year jail sentence in Egypt. According to The Times, Coupe had been forced to attend a court hearing in Giza last Sunday in an attempt to overturn a conviction relating to embezzlement after the collapse of an Egyptian business in which Sainsbury’s had invested.
The grocer released a statement this morning rejecting the allegations. “We are aware of media coverage today outlining a legal case in Egypt brought against our chief executive, Mike Coupe. This relates to a historic commercial dispute in which Mike Coupe had no involvement and we strongly refute all the allegations. Mike Coupe was not employed by Sainsbury’s at the time of the original business deal in 2001 and has never met the complainant.” Sainsbury’s said. The FTSE 100-listed grocer added that it did not expect the dispute with Egypt to have “any material operational or financial impact on the company”.
Sainsbury’s paid £50 million in 1999 in a joint venture with local retail entrepreneur Amr El Nasharty before withdrawing from Egypt in 2001. The company said El Nasharty bought out the joint-venture but “he paid us with cheques that bounced”. However, El Nasharty is now claiming Mike Coupe was in Egypt on July 15, 2014 and seized the cheques. Coupe was convicted last September by an Egyptian court, according to El Nasharty, even though there was no notice of proceedings against him, and he was not at the hearing. “This is clearly ridiculous. Mike Coupe was in London carrying out his normal duties that day,” Sainsbury’s stated.
The company’s shares opened marginally higher today, but soon lost ground. As of 08:23 BST, the stock was changing hands at 264.70p – 0.53 percent down intraday. In the year to date, Sainsbury’s share price has risen more than seven percent.
As of 08:48 BST, Wednesday, 29 April, J Sainsbury plc share price is 264.35p.