Jan Cameron charged over Bellamy's shareholding

Jan Cameron charged over Bellamy's shareholding

The founder of Kathmandu and former director of infant milk formula company Bellamy's (ASX: BAL) has been charged by the corporate watchdog for allegedly failing to disclose her substantial interest in the company.

Jan Cameron (pictured), 67, who was a director of Bellamy's from 2007 to 2011, will appear before the Hobart Magistrates Court on criminal charges brought by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) relating to her holdings in Bellamy's.

Cameron is the retired founder of Kathmandu and was once Australia's fourth richest woman after she sold 51 per cent of her share of Kathmandu for $247 million in 2006.

ASIC alleges when Bellamy's became a listed company in 2014, Cameron failed to disclose that she and her associate The Black Prince Foundation (Black Prince), held 14 million shares in the company, representing 14.74 per cent of its total listed capital.

Under section 671B of the Corporations Act, shareholders are required to disclose to the company and the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) if they have a holding of shares in a listed company greater than 5 per cent or more of voting power.

The maximum penalty at August 2014 for failing to lodge this substantial holder notice was six months' imprisonment, a fine of $4250 or both.

The watchdog further alleges that in February 2017 Cameron lodged with Bellamy's an initial substantial holder notice that failed to disclose her connection with Black Prince.

The maximum penalty for breaching the false or misleading statement in a document section of the Corporations Act is five years' imprisonment or $50,000 or both.

In November 2019 Treasurer Josh Frydenberg gave China Mengniu Dairy Comapny the green light to takeover Bellamy's for $1.5 billion.

The deal will have enforceable conditions however, including a requirement that the majority of the Bellamy's board of directors are Australian resident citizens and that Bellamy's keeps its headquarters in Australia for at least 10 years.

The suitor will also have to invest at least $12 million in establishing or improving infant milk formula processing facilities in Victoria.

Bellamy's recently settled two historical class actions dating back to early 2017 for $49.7 million.

The class actions, brought separately by Slater and Gordon (ASX: SGH) and Maurice Blackburn Lawyers alleged Bellamy's made misleading statements to the market about its growth strategy in China and failed to keep the market informed about its declining market share in Australia in 2016.

Bellamy's says the settlement was a "commercial decision made in the best interests of the Company" as it continues to focus on executing its strategies without the distraction of litigation.

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