Losing their marbles after listing

The recently listed NRMA insurance group has already had to make a grovelling apology to the Australian Stock Exchange.

Someone in the company handed over a draft copy of its profit figure to the BRW magazine – two days before the results were announced to the 1.6 million NRMA shareholders and the rest of us.

It is almost as if the brains of insurance executives fall out when they get a public listing (remember the ranting by George Trumbull over at AMP?).

In its defence, NRMA said it had told the esteemed BRW that the figures were not for release, as they were incomplete, and subject to board approval.

All the more reason, one might have thought, for not handing them around to the press. Apparently the company had not expected the magazine to publish the figures – did they think the journalists would just sit around and admire the draft copy?

The heavy tread of a Securities and Investments Commission inquiry can be heard in the distance. This case does not require hobnailed boots, since it obviously involved no chicanery or insider dealing.

However, it is an episode NRMA could have done without. The share price has been back-pedalling and has skidded under the $2.70 issue price to $2.60.

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