TORONTO – Alternative asset manager West Face Capital Inc. has filed a $70-million lawsuit against Home Capital Group Inc. and three former executives, alleging the Toronto-based mortgage lender’s public disclosure was inaccurate and misleading.
In the statement of claim filed Thursday, West Face said it took a large short position in Home Capital (TSX:HCG) in 2013, based on the investment thesis that the mortgage lender would have to take on more risk to meet its “ambitious and aggressive” growth targets.
West Face, a Caymans Island limited partnership, said that in 2013 between April 30 and Aug. 2, it built the short position by borrowing and selling more than 2.5 million Home Capital shares, betting the share price would fall if Home Capital missed its growth targets or engaged in risky lending practices that would deteriorate the quality of its loans.
In the 17-page court document, West Face said that between October 2013 and April 2015, it had purchased a total of 2,586,800 Home Capital shares to cover its short position.
West Face alleges that it then learned the public disclosures on which it had relied to buy the shares “were inaccurate, incomplete and misleading.”
The asset manager said a KPMG report completed for Home Capital’s board of directors, which was leaked online in August, “revealed for the first time that Home Capital and the individual defendants had been misleading the market with respect to Home Capital’s risk management practices since at least 2013.”
West Face said it would not have made the same investment decisions had the disclosure been “timely, accurate, and complete.”
It also alleges that Home Capital’s shares were “inflated by virtue of the fact that market participants were unaware of the material information that Home Capital had withheld.”
West Face’s allegations have not been proven in court.
Home Capital confirmed late last month that it had received a draft statement of claim from West Face. The company said at the time that it intended to “fully defend its conduct.”
The company’s statement also said it would “investigate the conduct of various short sellers and the propriety of their actions whether acting alone or in concert with others.”
In June, Home Capital agreed to pay $30.5 million to settle a class-action lawsuit and a matter before the Ontario Securities Commission concerning allegations of misleading disclosure.
West Face’s statement of claim said it opted out of the class action because investors who purchased common Home Capital shares to close out a short position were excluded from compensation under the settlement terms.