Denmark’s largest pension funds, ATP, PFA and 24 other institutional investors, have filed a witness summons as part of their legal action against collapsed shipping fuel company OW Bunker, whose bankruptcy in late 2014 jointly cost them DKK769m (€103.3m) in investment losses.
In a statement, ATP and PFA said a consortium consisting of 26 Danish institutional investors filed the summons in the Copenhagen City Court regarding OW Bunker.
Tomas Krüger Andersen, general counsel for the pension fund’s division ATP Pensions & Investments, said: “Although it will take years before we get a clarification, ATP has a duty to our members to seek to recover the losses we have suffered from OW Bunkers bankruptcy.”
“As an investor we also have a clear interest in establishing liability in this extraordinary case,” he said.
The investor group had suffered losses of DKK769m by investing in shares of OW Bunker on the basis of a prospectus that was, ATP and PFA said, “deficient on essential points in the form of incomplete, erroneous, misleading and omitted and concealed information.”
Krüger Andersen told IPE: “The background for our lawsuit is in reality that the picture they were painting to us turned out not the be the real picture, and that is disappointing.”
In their statement, ATP and PFA said the most crucial information that was missing in the main prospectus issued ahead of OW Bunker’s IPO in March 2014 concerned oil-price speculation and trading with one very large customer via the Singapore company Dynamic Oil Trading.
The claim is against OW Bunker in bankruptcy, the private equity fund Altor as well as the board and the daily management of OW Bunker, the Danish pension funds said.
“The action can be expanded to include additional parties, and it has not yet been decided whether additional cases will be brought,” ATP and PFA said.
The investors said in their statement they did not have all the information and documentation on certain events leading up to the IPO.
The consortium said it would also try to agree “suspension pacts” with the issuing banks and accountants, to ensure that any possible claim would not lapse due to statutes of limitations.
Krüger Andersen said ATP believes the banks involved in the case would agree to this.
ATP declined to name the banks involved, but, in the March 2014 prospectus, Carnegie and Morgan Stanley were listed as joint global coordinators of the IPO, Carnegie, Morgan Stanley and Nordea as joint bookrunners and ABG Sundal Collier as co-lead manager.
Deloitte is listed as auditor.
Asked why the consortium of investors was not at this point taking legal action in court against the banks, Krüger Andersen said: “We are looking at the information we have at hand and so feel it is appropriate to go after the company, its board and its management and the private equity fund Altor.”
Even though the lawsuit’s current aim is at individuals and one private equity fund, he said ATP does believe it will be able to get compensation.
“We know there is insurance coverage, but we don’t know the details of that,” he said.
Rasmus Bessing, president and COO at PFA Asset Management, said: “It is extremely important we get this unfortunate situation fully elucidated and place the responsibility for the events around OW Bunker’s IPO and bankruptcy.”
This had to be done, not least in order to restore trust in the Danish stock market, he said.
“At the same time, we owe it to our customers to get the best possible compensation for their losses,” he said.
Other pension funds and providers involved in the consortium of 26 are SEB, Lærernes Pension, Topdanmark, PensionDanmark, Unipension, DIP, JØP, AP Pension, Sampension and PenSam.
Law firm Bruun & Hjejle is representing the investors in the cases, supported by lawyers Accura and auditors KPMG.
ATP and PFA said in June last year they were part of an investor group planning to sue OW Bunker.
ATP has said it invested around DKK150m in OW Bunker, while Industriens Pension, DIP and JØP have said their exposure to the collapsed company was DKK15m, DKK16m and DKK9m, respectively.