Nova share trading shady near the end

Boss unloaded amid volume, price flux

Irregular transactions took place in the trading of shares in Nova Corp. in late August and early September ? well before the ailing foreign language school chain was put under court protection for rehabilitation last week, market sources said Thursday.

The large volume of transactions and wild price fluctuations observed during that period came in the absence of factors encouraging investors to sell or buy Nova shares, the sources said, some alleging unfair trading took place.

Nova’s share price on the Jasdaq Securities Exchange in Tokyo plunged to ¥29 from above ¥40 on Aug. 29, after falling gradually amid rumors of its deteriorating financial condition. The price later fluctuated wildly, peaking above ¥60.

On Aug. 29, the daily trading volume in Nova stock suddenly rose to 10 million shares after ranging from 100,000 shares to 1.7 million shares. On Sept. 7, the trading volume swelled to 60 million shares.

A market analyst who requested anonymity said that given the large volume of transactions, parties other than individual investors were apparently behind the wild price fluctuations.

The transactions may have been the result of insider trading by those with access to secret information related to Nova, said Shoichi Arisawa of Iwai Securities Co.

Nova said earlier this week that Nozomu Sahashi, who was dismissed as president of the firm on Oct. 25, sold a massive number of Nova shares in September and failed to fulfill a legal requirement for investors to report any major changes in shareholdings to authorities.

On the Jasdaq exchange Thursday, Nova ended ¥3 lower at ¥19 after hitting a record low of ¥11 Tuesday. The bourse will delist Nova on Nov. 27.

Nova has suspended operations since coming under court protection Friday.

The suspension has also affected schools to which Nova sent assistant language teachers. The Osaka city board of education said Thursday it has canceled a contract with Nova for assistant teachers for 335 elementary and junior high schools.