Groupon names Brian Stevens as accounting chief

Online deals site Groupon Inc.
has named Brian Stevens as its new chief accounting officer, effective immediately.

Prior to joining Groupon, Mr. Stevens spent 16 years with KPMG LLP, most recently as an audit partner from October 2007 through last month.

Groupon has seen accounting woes, most notably rattling investors in March with a disclosure that its fourth-quarter results were worse than previously reported, as the company was hit with more expensive customer-refund requests than expected as it expanded into new types of deals.

Groupon at the time said the revisions clipped $14.3 million from revenue in the quarter ended in December, reduced operating income by $30 million. In an associated regulatory filing, Groupon said it concluded “there is a material weakness in the design and operating effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting.”

Groupon, based in Chicago, exploded in popularity soon after its founding in 2008, at one point deflecting a roughly $6 billion acquisition offer from Google Inc.
It was one of a batch of Web-based firms, including Facebook Inc.
that quickly garnered large audiences while moving toward the public markets.

However, Groupon began facing difficult questions about its financial reporting, marketing costs and growth prospects around the time of its initial public offering in November, when it was priced at $20 a share. Groupon’s share price was $4.28 in recent trading, giving the company a market value of nearly $2.8 billion. The stock is down 79% so far this year.

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Last month, Groupon said it swung to a second-quarter profit as it posted stronger revenue, especially in North America, while tamping down marketing costs.

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