Denmark's largest pension funds sue collapsed shipping company
Denmark’s biggest pension funds, ATP and PFA, are planning to sue collapsed shipping fuel firm OW Bunker as part of a group of institutional investors aiming to recoup more than DKK800m (€107m) lost just six months after the company’s much-heralded IPO.
The two pension funds said the group of 27 institutional investors was now instituting legal proceedings concerning prospectus liability and disclosure obligations under securities regulation.
The investors together represent claims for more than DKK800m.
Kenneth Joensen, chief general counsel at ATP, said: “It is our duty towards ATP’s members to seek to recover as much as possible of the loss incurred as a result of OW Bunker’s bankruptcy.”
He described the collapse as a “highly negative event on the Danish stock market” and said there was a strong need to clarify events leading up to it and to determine responsibility.
The group of investors includes Danish pension funds ATP, PFA, PensionDanmark, DIP, JØP and AP Pension, as well as the investment arms of PenSam, Lærernes Pension and Unipension.
In December last year, a smaller group of Danish institutional investors including seven pension funds launched an investigation into the collapse to see whether there were grounds for a case.
ATP and PKA said that investigation focussed on errors and flaws in the company’s IPO prospectus, liability in connection with the offering and the sale of shares plus the management’s liability for OW Bunker’s operations in the time between the IPO and the bankruptcy.
The investors are bringing two actions – one about prospectus liability against OW Bunker, relevant former members of OW Bunker’s management and relevant entities of Altor, and the other concerning liability for non-compliance with stock exchange disclosure duties against OW Bunker and relevant former members of its management.
Altor is the Swedish investment fund that was OW Bunker’s main shareholder.
Anders Damgaard, CIO at PFA Pension, said the whole course of events surrounding the IPO and bankruptcy was regrettable.
“It should not be possible for the company described in the prospectus to be declared bankrupt only six months after the IPO,” he said.
Because of this, he said it was now crucial to find out what went wrong and whose fault it was – “both in order to obtain the best possible compensation for our clients’ losses, to shed light on the weaknesses of the framework conditions for IPOs, and not least to ensure that something like this will not happen again.”
In December, ATP said it had invested around DKK150m in OW Bunker.
Engineers’ pension fund DIP put its exposure to the company at DKK16m, while lawyers and economists’ pension fund JØP said it had DKK9m invested.
Industriens Pension said it lost DKK15m.
Other parties may be involved in the actions if more information is obtained, ATP and PFA said.
The legal action will take place through Danish courts, and writs are now being prepared.
Law firm Bruun & Hjejle will represent the investors in the proceedings, which will, in turn, be assisted by legal firm Accura and auditors KPMG.