Macmahon Holdings, which recently lost its chief executive after a big earnings downgrade, has blamed a false email chain discussing a supposed Chinese takeover offer, for a temporary trading halt today.
The West Perth-based contractor, which counts Leighton Holdings as its largest shareholder, placed its stock in a trading halt this morning in response to market speculation of a possible takeover bid.
Macmahon explained this afternoon that it had been contacted about an email chain that purported to comprise emails between its directors and its chief executive.
The email chain discussed a supposed approach from a Chinese joint venture about a formal takeover offer.
The company said internal enquiries had found the email chain was false but it has no knowledge of who created the false emails.
Macmahon has confirmed that no such discussions about a possible takeover offer have taken place.
The contracting group slashed its earnings guidance last month, less than four weeks after it forecast 20 per cent profit growth for financial year 2013.
At the time, Macmahon said the impetus to cut its forecast was cost overruns on its $100 million Hope Downs 4 rail earthworks contract in the Pilbara with Hancock Prospecting.
Chief executive Nick Bowen resigned following the announcement.
Newly-installed Macmahon chief executive Ross Carroll flagged in his first week at the helm that he expected the company to win fewer new construction jobs in 2012-13, on the back of recent market volatility and economic uncertainty.