Sergio Rial, president of Americanas, one of the largest retail groups in the country, announced this Wednesday (11) his departure from the company. In a material fact, signed by him and by Americanas’ investor relations director, André Covre, both report having found “inconsistencies” in the amount of R$ 20 billion in the company’s balance sheet.
The name of Rial, former president of Santander Brasil, was announced in August last year and the executive has now taken over, in early 2023. He replaced Miguel Gutierrez, who had been at Americanas for almost 30 years and has been in charge of the group for 20 .
“Americanas SA informs its shareholders and the market in general that inconsistencies were detected in accounting entries reducing the supplier account made in previous years, including the year 2022”, it informed in a material fact.
As a result, Sérgio Rial and André Covre, who took over on the 2nd, decided to leave the company. Rial, however, will continue as adviser to the reference shareholders of Americanas, the trio of billionaires at the head of the investment fund 3G Capital – Jorge Paulo Lemann, Beto Sicupira and Marcel Telles.
The board of directors appointed João Guerra, from the area of technology and human resources, as interim president and director of investor relations. The board will create an independent committee to investigate the circumstances that led to the aforementioned “accounting inconsistencies”.
The group said that, despite not being able to determine all the impacts on the company’s balance sheet “at this moment”, it believes “the cash effect of these inconsistencies is immaterial”. That is, according to the company, it is an accounting effect, not a financial one (money should not leave the cashier to cover the gap).
Americanas’ current market capitalization is around R$11 billion. The company expects to release results for 2022 on March 29.
In the opinion of Eugênio Foganholo, partner at the retail consultancy Mixxer, Rial is one of the best and most prepared executives in the Brazilian market and there were great expectations surrounding his arrival to command a retail giant, a sector he did not dominate. “But he brings up the question of governance, which is very strong in the financial market”, says Foganholo. “A BRL 20 billion shortfall is unbelievable. It is an open fracture in publicly traded companies, it is unacceptable.”
“In a preliminary analysis, the company’s accounting area estimates that the amounts of inconsistencies are of the size of BRL 20 billion on the base date of 09/30/2022”, says the statement. “The company’s accounting area identified the existence of purchase financing operations in amounts of the same order above, in which the company is a debtor to financial institutions and which are not adequately reflected in the supplier account in the financial statements of 09/30/2022 .”
According to market sources heard by the Sheet, the supplier area is always the most problematic in retail companies. It is where, according to these sources, separate negotiations take place, illicit acts such as favoring some suppliers, in exchange for advantages for some executives.
“The estimates above are subject to confirmations and adjustments resulting from the completion of verification work and work to be carried out by the independent auditors, after which it will be possible to properly determine all the impacts that such inconsistencies will have on the company’s financial statements”, says the relevant fact.
In 2021, the company had simplified its corporate structure and was renamed Americanas SA, bringing together the assets of Lojas Americanas and B2W, owner of Americanas.com. Thus, it began to have a single share listed on B3’s Novo Mercado, the highest governance market.
“The news generates a lack of confidence in public companies in general”, says Foganholo. “Is very bad.”
(With Reuters; collaborated with Renato Carvalho, from São Paulo)
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