The Overseas Investment Office is investigating the "good character" status of China's Agria Corp, PGG Wrightson's largest shareholder, after the company was formally delisted from the New York Stock Exchange early last year.
"We are aware of the situation in the US in relation to Agria around its delisting from the New York Stock Exchange and concerns raised by the US Securities and Exchange Commission. The OIO can confirm that we are investigating Agria's good character. We are unable to make any further comment at this time," an OIO spokesman said in an emailed response to questions.
An Agria-led consortium was given a green light to take an initial stake in rural services firm PGG Wrightson in 2009 and a controlling holding in 2011. Under OIO regulation, "consent cannot be granted unless the people who will control the investment are of good character."
Agria, which owns 50.22 percent of PGG Wrightson through Agria (Singapore) Limited, was formally delisted from the New York Stock Exchange on Jan. 2, 2017. Trading was halted when an NYSE investigation "uncovered evidence demonstrating that the company and its management engaged in operations contrary to the public interest and not in keeping with sound public policy," Agria said at the time, citing the NYSE.
It went on to say the NYSE claimed to have identified evidence indicating that the company, through a top executive and other intermediaries, engaged in trading intended to artificially inflate Agria's stock price and that it provided incomplete, misleading or false information.
Agria also said it was subpoenaed in December 2015 by the US Securities and Exchange Commission "in connection with a non-public investigation". At the time, it said "the SEC's subpoena is focused on, among other things, Agria's historic and ongoing business operations in China" and that it was cooperating with the investigation.
Wrightson shares fell 3.3 percent to 58 cents but are up 18 percent over the past 12 months.
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