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New York pension fund joined by four others in BP class-action suit

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  • New York pension fund joined by four others in BP class-action suit

GLOBAL - The $132bn (€102bn) New York Common Retirement Fund has been joined by four further pensions funds from the US state of Ohio in a $200m class-action suit against BP.

The five funds, which combined have $282bn (€220bn) of assets under management, filed a lawsuit to reclaim losses made since the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The spill three months ago caused BP stock to fall by 40%.

They allege BP issued "materially false and misleading statements" about its security procedures, as well as its ability to react to an oil spill, leading to an estimated $200m loss.

Ohio attorney general Richard Cordray said institutional investors and especially Ohio pension funds had been greatly harmed by the alleged misconduct.

"By forming a partnership between New York and Ohio, we aim to compensate investors for what we believe was securities fraud and effect real change in the way BP and other companies do business," he said.

New York State comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who launched the class-action suit last month, added that the partnership offered the "best chance" for recovering any money.

European institutional investors were at first thought to be barred from joining such class-action suits due to a recent US Supreme Court ruling.

In the case, brought against National Australia Bank, judges decided 'f cubed' claims - whereby a foreign investor can sue a foreign company under securities laws if the stocks are acquired on an exchange outside of US jurisdiction - were no longer permissible.

However, a partner at New York-based law firm Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann said there could still be other ways for non-US investors to benefit from the country's securities laws.

The four Ohio funds seeking lead plaintiff status alongside the Common Retirement Fund are the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System, the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio, the School Employees Retirement System of Ohio and the Ohio Police & Fire Pension Fund.

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