NQ Mobile Should Accept Muddy Waters' Offer
Dec 19th 2013 7:00PM
Updated Dec 19th 2013 7:02PM
Back in October, shares of NQ Mobile plummeted by more than 60% after the Chinese mobile Internet services company was accused of fraud by noted short-seller Muddy Waters.
To be sure, Muddy Waters pulled out all the stops in its 80-page report, not only asserting "at least 72% of NQ's purported 2013 China security revenue is fictitious," but also claiming "NQ's cash balances are highly likely not to be real."
NQ Mobile has aggressively defended itself since then by threatening legal action against Muddy Waters, detailing multiple cash transfers to Standard Chartered Bank, and forming a special committee of four independent directors to investigate the claims.
Your move, NQ
Nonetheless, Muddy Waters has maintained its relentless pressure on the firm.
Heck, Muddy Waters founder Carson Block even took to Bloomberg TV today to reiterate his belief NQ Mobile's efforts are likely part of a massive cover up to hide its fraud, saying "Independent director committees are not effective ways of investigating possible wrongdoing of companies."
Take Sino-Forest, for example, at which Muddy Waters aimed its crosshairs back in 2011 and whose own committee subsequently cleared it of any malfeasance -- mere months before the Chinese forestry firm filed for bankruptcy protection in Canada.
But that's where Muddy Waters' latest offer to NQ Mobile comes in.
Specifically, in an open letter to NQ's independent committee Thursday, Block offered to foot the bill if NQ would allow widely respected, Michigan-based accounting firm Plante & Moran to perform their own independent evaluation of Muddy Waters' claims -- that is, as long as NQ consents before midnight on Jan. 7.
The stakes are high
And you know what? Putting aside the admittedly infuriating prospect of enabling its aggressor, I think NQ Mobile should take the deal.
After all, if they truly have nothing to hide, what do they have to lose? And with so much publicity surrounding the events, you can also bet the folks at 85-year-old Plante Moran aren't particularly interested in putting their sterling reputation at risk, so will happily provide an impartial review of Muddy Waters' report.
If Muddy Waters is proven wrong, NQ Mobile investors would be able to definitively put this entire debacle behind them. However, if NQ is concealing fraud on any level, it's definitely not going to agree to risk letting Plante Moran have a look.
In the end, though, and as deep as both parties have dug in their heels, you can be fairly certain this roller-coaster ride will end terribly one way or the other. For the sake of NQ Mobile investors, I sure hope Muddy Waters is wrong.
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