Morningstar data breach reveals KPMG dealmaker lists – The Australian Financial Review


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That included one alert created this month called “Venice Panther”, which had listed as recipients several KPMG staff involved in mergers and acquisitions. That included Sam McClure, a partner in KPMG Australia’s deal advisory services group.

The four companies in that alert were residential aged care outfit Japara Healthcare, which has KPMG as an auditor; military aircraft parts maker Quickstep Holdings, which again has KPMG as auditor; cloud-based human resources and payroll software company ELMO Software, whose auditor is from Deloitte; and agriculture real estate investment trust Vitalharvest, also audited by Deloitte.

A Morningstar spokeswoman told the Financial Review that while the investigation was ongoing, “we believe this is an isolated incident related to overlapping IP address ranges” between KPMG and newspapers owned by Nine Entertainment, publisher of the Financial Review.

“We are undertaking a review of our log in protocols to ensure this does not happen in the future,” she said.

Eye on the west

The list seems to confirm some work. For instance, KPMG mergers staff are listed in a “Project Earth” alert outfit since April last year for renewable power outfit ReNu Energy. ReNu told the market in July last year that KPMG had been appointed as a corporate finance adviser to assist with “potential merger or acquisition opportunities finance with ReNu Energy scrip and/or external capital”.

One project name – Project Deckard – has potentially tapped movie trivia. The October 2019 alert, which was sent to staff including a former mergers and acquisitions senior member, was set up to notify of any changes to issued capital for agricultural outfit Elders, which sells retail products among offerings, and animal feed supplier Ridley Corporation.

Deckard is the name of the police officer chasing cyborgs in the sci-fi movie Blade Runner, directed by Ridley Scott.

Just last year, the Financial Review’s Street Talk column revealed that US private equity group AGR Partners, a 19.7 per cent shareholder in Ridley, was approaching potential buyers about selling its stake, with KPMG’s advisory arm helping set up some meetings.

Another Brisbane-based mergers and acquisitions analyst had a list called “Project Africa” created in February last year, with debt collection outfits Credit Corp, Collection House and Pioneer Credit the only three companies listed.

Both Collection House and Pioneer Credit were struggling badly last year. In fact Credit Corp bought debt ledgers off Brisbane-based Collection House, advised by Deloitte and Flagstaff Partners, for $160 million last December.

Several staff involved in the Western Australian restructuring scene also had set up personal alerts in March last year. They cover companies that have undergone some major rejigging, such as Frontier Diamonds, which delisted late last year having reached standstill agreements with note holders and creditors.

Other companies on their list included gold explorer Resolute Mining, graphite mining outfit Syrah Resources and media business Swift Media.

KPMG declined to comment.

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