Hedge fund adds public campaign to lawsuits at Black Rifle
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Activist investor 1791 Management is leading a campaign against Black Rifle Coffee (BRC) over what it sees as “willful conduct designed to defraud investors” by the company’s top echelon.
Black Rifle hit public markets earlier this year after a merger with a blank check company backed by activist investor Engaged Capital. The public offering, valuing Black Rifle at $1.7 billion, was followed by a meteoric rise and later a collapse of the stock price, which 1791 believes was the result of a scheme by company CEO Evan Hafer.
In a mid-May open letter, 1791 argued that Hafer and other executives breached securities laws and “intentionally” kept the number of available shares low, resulting in an “artificially inflated” stock price, followed by stock issuances to the CEO worth roughly $90 million.
“Just in case you hadn’t noticed Mr. Hafer, Black Rifle lost $4.8 billion in value (from $7.3 billion down to $2.5 billion) over the three-month period that you made tens of millions off your own stock. I find it hard to believe you were looking out for your shareholders as you raked in the money,” the activist wrote.
1791 urged Hafer and his team to “action plan” to redress the situation and said that if they fail to do so, they should just wind down Black Rifle and return what public money is left on the company’s balance sheet to shareholders.
Since then, many investors have sued Black Rifle alleging fraud. Last week on Friday, 1791 put out a presentation pointing to documents sent to regulators regarding Engaged’s involvement in the scheme. 1791 said that Glenn Welling’s firm may have been negligent in its deal to take Black Rifle public and could be held financially responsible for the investment losses inflicted on the coffee company’s public shareholders.