Monday, November 19, 2007

Late-breaking News

We wish there were an award for Least Informative Disclosure About a Government Investigation, because then we could nominate Manpower Inc. (MAN).

Three years ago, Manpower announced that French authorities had begun an investigation into possible violations of French and EU competition laws. According to a December 2004 press release, an official of this French agency showed up at the company’s Paris office wielding a search warrant and looking for “evidence of price fixing and allocation of market share within the French market.” Since then, the company has mentioned the investigation in its 2005 and 2006 10-Ks, but hasn't provided any new details.

Last week we finally got an update on the situation. In a terse 8-K filed Friday, Manpower said French authorities have now issued something called a “Statement of Objections.” So what does this mean? It is, the 8-K helpfully informs us, “a further step in the proceedings.” Oh, OK, thanks.

It’s not Manpower’s fault, we must assume, that the investigation is taking so long. Given the 35-hour workweek and long summer vacations that are de rigueur in France, it could be years before we get another update.