NEW YORK, Sept. 18, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Pomerantz LLP announces that a class action lawsuit has been filed against Venator Materials PLC, Inc. (“Venator” or the “Company”) (NYSE: VNTR) and certain of its officers. The class action, filed in United States District Court, for the Southern District of New York, and indexed under 19-cv-08625, is on behalf of a class consisting of all persons and entities other than Defendants who purchased or otherwise, acquired publicly traded Venator securities that: (a) purchased Venator securities between August 2, 2017 and October 29, 2018, inclusive (the “Class Period”); (b) purchased Venator shares in or traceable to the Company’s initial public offering of ordinary shares conducted on or around August 3, 2017 (the “IPO”); or (c) purchased Venator shares in or traceable to the Company’s secondary public offering of ordinary shares conducted on or around December 4, 2017 (the “SPO,” and together with the IPO, the “Offerings”).
The claims asserted alleged against Venator and certain of the Company’s officers, members of Venator’s Board of Directors, including the Directors that signed the registration statements for the Offerings (collectively, “Defendants”), and arise under Sections 11 and 15 of the Securities Act of 1933 (the “Securities Act”), and Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”) and Rule 10b-5, promulgated thereunder.
If you are a shareholder who purchased Venator securities that: (a) purchased Venator securities between August 2, 2017, and October 29, 2018, inclusive (the “Class Period”); (b) purchased Venator shares in or traceable to the Company’s initial public offering of ordinary shares conducted on or around August 3, 2017; or (c) purchased Venator shares in or traceable to the Company’s secondary public offering of ordinary shares conducted on or around December 4, 2017, you have until September 30, 2019, to ask the Court to appoint you as Lead Plaintiff for the class. A copy of the Complaint can be obtained at www.pomerantzlaw.com. To discuss this action, contact Robert S. Willoughby at firstname.lastname@example.org or 888.476.6529 (or 888.4-POMLAW), toll-free, Ext. 9980. Those who inquire by e-mail are encouraged to include their mailing address, telephone number, and the number of shares purchased.
Venator was previously organized as the Pigments & Additives division within defendant Huntsman Corporation (“Huntsman”), a multinational manufacturer of chemical products. In October 2016, Huntsman began exploring options to separate its Pigments & Additives and Textile Effects divisions from its core business. On January 17, 2017, Huntsman announced that it would spin off its Pigments & Additives division into a new entity named Venator Materials Corporation.
On January 30, 2017, a fire ravaged one of Venator’s key Titanium Dioxide manufacturing plants located in Pori, Finland. Before the fire, the Pori facility could produce up to 130,000 metric tons of Titanium Dioxide each year, which represented approximately 17% of the Company’s total Titanium Dioxide capacity and approximately 2% of total global demand for the chemical.
Following the fire, Huntsman concealed the true extent of the damage to the Pori facility and assured investors that the “fire brigade responded quickly and extinguished the fire.” The Company also assured investors that “the site is insured for property damage as well as earnings losses” and “Huntsman is committed to repairing the facility as quickly as possible.”
On or around August 3, 2017, Venator conducted the IPO, through which more than 26 million ordinary shares of Venator were sold at $20 per share, with Huntsman reaping over $522 million in gross proceeds. Four months after the IPO, on or around December 4, 2017, Venator conducted the SPO, through which an additional 23.7 million ordinary shares of Venator were sold at $22.50 per share, resulting in over $533 million in gross proceeds to Huntsman.
In the Offering Material for both the IPO and the SPO, the Defendants misrepresented the true extent of the fire damage to Venator’s Pori facility, the cost to rehabilitate the facility, and the impact on Venator’s business and operations. Throughout the Class Period, the Company repeatedly misrepresented the true extent of the damage at the Pori facility and made reassuring statements to investors regarding the Company’s business operations, financial prospects, and the restoration of its Titanium Dioxide production capacity. As a result of these misrepresentations, Venator shares traded at artificially inflated prices throughout the Class Period.
The truth began to emerge on July 31, 2018, when Venator revealed that the fire damage at the Pori facility was far more extensive than Defendants had previously represented to investors. Specifically, Venator announced that the cost to repair the facility had climbed to more than $375 million above the insurance policy limits, more than double the amount disclosed to investors just two months after the IPO. On this news, the price of Venator shares declined from $15.35 per share to $14.62 per share, or roughly 4.76%, on July 31, 2018.
Then, on September 12, 2018, Venator announced that it was abandoning the Pori facility altogether, despite the Company’s previous assurances that the site would be repaired and restored back to its full operating capacity. The Company also revealed that the facility was still only operating at 20% capacity and thus had not increased production by any meaningful amount during the thirteen months since the IPO. During an investor conference call held later that same day, Venator’s Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”), Simon Turner, essentially admitted that the Company had misrepresented the true extent of the fire damage. Specifically, when asked by an analyst whether Venator had provided a “misestimate of the initial amount of damage from the fire” and whether “the actual work that needed to be done was missed,” Turner agreed that “it was a combination of factors, both of which, you’ve mentioned already.” These disclosures caused the price of Venator shares to decline from $11.35 per share to $10.81 per share, or roughly 4.76%, on September 12, 2018.
On October 30, 2018, Venator announced that in addition to the over $500 million in costs and lost business associated with the Pori fire incurred to date—which had been covered by Venator’s insurance policy—the Company incurred an additional restructuring expense of approximately $415 million and would incur additional “charges of $220 million through the end of 2024” related to the Pori site. As a result of these disclosures, the Company’s share price declined from $8.00 per share to $6.47 per share, or more than 19%, on an unusually high trading volume on October 30, 2018.
Ultimately, by October 30, 2018, the price of Venator shares had fallen nearly 68% from the price at which Venator shares were sold to investors in the IPO and over 71% from the price at which Venator shares were sold to investors in the SPO.
The Pomerantz Firm, with offices in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Paris, is acknowledged as one of the premier firms in the areas of corporate, securities, and antitrust class litigation. Founded by the late Abraham L. Pomerantz, known as the dean of the class action bar, the Pomerantz Firm pioneered the field of securities class actions. Today, more than 80 years later, the Pomerantz Firm continues in the tradition he established, fighting for the rights of the victims of securities fraud, breaches of fiduciary duty, and corporate misconduct. The Firm has recovered numerous multimillion-dollar damages awards on behalf of class members. See www.pomerantzlaw.com
Robert S. Willoughby