Business World

Thursday 14 December 2017

Mystery of cleaner who 'cashed in' on Reebok

A CROAT woman suspected in the US of using insider information to gain millions on the Adidas-Reebok deal said she has never bought any stock and has no clue about how the stock exchange functions.

Croatian media suggested yesterday that 63-year old Sonja Anticevic, a retired tailor who sometimes works as a cleaning lady to supplement her monthly pension of 1,600 kuna (?219), could be a victim of stolen identity.

Briefly appearing at the doorstep of her apartment in a working-class suburb of the southern city of Omis on Sunday, Ms Anticevic, wearing a plain, sleeveless black cotton dress, told The Associated Press she "never bought a stock and I have no idea how that works".

"Leave me alone, please, I'm in shock," she said before closing the doors. She refused to comment further.

The 'Jutarnji list' daily reported yesterday that Ms Anticevic's 25-year-old nephew is a broker in New York and that she keeps contact with him. It was unclear if the nephew played any role in the trading and if he did, if he did so with her approval.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission said last Friday that it froze Ms Anticevic's accounts, saying she netted ?1.6m in well-timed trades of Reebok International Ltd.

The SEC said Anticevic allegedly purchased US$130,000 (?105,00) worth of call contracts - options to purchase Reebok stock at a set price.

When Reebok shares rose after its ?3.1bn acquisition by Adidas-Salomon AG was announced last Wednesday, Ms Anticevic exercised the option, buying Reebok shares at the lower price, then reselling them at the higher market price for a profit of US$2m (?1.6m).

The SEC said the timing was enough to raise suspicions and led to the freezing of Anticevic's assets while the SEC investigates further.

Croatian police said yesterday they have not received any request from the US regarding the case.

The reports immediately made Anticevic a front-page topic in Croatian media, which was puzzled over how she possibly could have struck such a deal. There was also speculation that her name and account, with or without her knowledge, were used for someone else's trading.

Her neighbours in Omis, a city of 15,500 residents, said she retired a few years ago after working all her life in a local underwear factory.

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