SSGA ordered to compensate Dutch pension for Lehman loss
NETHERLANDS - A Dutch court has ordered State Street Global Advisers (SSgA) to pay €40m plus interest to the OPG pension fund, for losing its investments in the collapse of Lehman Brothers.
The €203m pension fund of pharmaceuticals wholesale group Mediq had filed a lawsuit against SSgA, because in its opinion the asset manager had violated its guarantee of protecting OPG's investments against bankruptcy risk. (See earlier IPE story: Pharmacists to sue State Street for Lehman losses).
According to the pension fund, SSgA had placed up to €47m of its funds in a global equity mandate with investment bank Lehman Brothers but without separating and protecting OPG's assets.
The OPG pension fund and its sponsoring company Mediq said in a statement they were very pleased with the court ruling.
"Although our claim of €47m reflects the value of our assets lost in November 2008, the court ruling is at least encouraging," said Catrien van Buttinga, spokeswoman for the pension fund, to IPE.
She added the OPG scheme is still waiting for a ruling in a similar case presented to a US court, where the pension fund has claimed €70m - the initial value of its lost assets.
"We consider the Dutch court ruling as an important step in recovering the lost assets which account for approximately a quarter of our scheme's total assets," said Van Buttinga.
Arlene Roberts, a spokeswoman for State Street Global Advisers, said SSgA was disappointed with the Dutch court's decision, and said the asset manager "is evaluating its options".
According to the spokeswoman for Stichting Pensioenfonds OPG, the scheme's current recovery plan is based on the loss of the portfolio it had placed with State Street.
As part of the recovery process, sponsoring company Mediq has raised its gross contribution from 22% to 30%, and has agreed to pay an additional donation of €12.5m between 2008 and 2011.
However, scheme members will not receive indexation payments for 2009 and 2010.
After reaching an absolute low of 93.2% early last year, the cover ratio of the OPG scheme has risen to approximately 100%, although this does not include the impact the Dutch court ruling, according to Van Buttinga.
PMA, the pension fund for pharmaceutical assistants - which had announced plans to sue State Street on the same grounds - is still awaiting further news of its case.
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