SOUTH AFRICA – The Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) has suspended South Africa’s diversified agribusiness firm, Tongaat Hulett’s shares from the bourse as well as the London Stock Exchange, where the company has a secondary listing.

In a statement published on the Stock Exchange News Service (Sens) the Tongaat said the board had voluntarily approached the JSE with a request for a suspension of the listing of the company’s securities, reports IOL Business

This follows a forensic investigation into the company’s assets, operations and other financial information which has prompted the company to reveal that its audited financials for the year to the end of March 2018 would have to be restated.

Tongaat, however, said that the request for suspension of trading at the bourse was meant to protect investors from unreliable financial statements.

“This decision has not been taken lightly. While the board is conscious that some shareholders or potential investors would prefer to retain the ability to buy and sell shares, the board believes that the temporary suspension is in the best interests of shareholders as a whole,” Tongaat Hulett said.

“The board views the suspension as a temporary measure until the company is in a position to provide sufficient further information to the market. It is expected that the suspension will be lifted no later than the time of release of the March 2019 financial statements.”

Tongaat Hulett recently said that a review of its financial statement of the period found that reporting reflected in the 2018 financial statements was in the process of being determined and an estimated reduction in the amount reflected as the company’s equity as at April 1, 2018, was anticipated to be between US$237.01 million (R3.5bn) and US$304.7million (R4.5bn).

The sugar giant, whose secondary listing on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) has also been put on ice, said that halting of trading of its shares would also allow the group to restructure and reduce its debt.

“The company is continuing to formulate its ongoing strategic review and comprehensive turnaround strategy entailing, inter alia, cost reductions, possible sales of certain assets, restructuring of operations and improvements in operating performance.”