Pension funds win US$45m class action
UK - Ten UK pension funds have won a total $45m (€33.8m) as part of an opt-out action brought against AOL Time Warner.
AOL was charged with a host of suits stemming from accusations of inflating its stock price artificially in 2000 and 2001 ahead of the merger with Time Warner.
The 10 funds, among which Scotland's Lothian pension fund and the Falkirk Council pension fund plus several English local authority schemes, claimed securities violations during the 2001 merger.
The schemes won the $45m of a total award of $600m, after breaking away from the $2.6bn shareholder class action against the American entertainment giant.
Speaking at last week's UK National Association of Pension Funds investment conference, NAPF head of corporate governance, David Paterson said: "It seems self-evident that pension trustees have a duty to protect the assets in their scheme. At the very least, they should not neglect opportunities to recoup losses, especially where the cost and effort of doing so are commensurate with the expected return."
Legal adviser, San Diego, US-based Lerach Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins, representing the schemes, said: "Had these funds done nothing and filed passively in a class action, the most they could have collectively recouped would have been $5m."
Patrick Daniels, New York managing partner at the legal firm which now represents 12 UK pension funds, mostly those of local authorities, told legal publication The Lawyer that UK-based institutions investors in US-listed companies were becoming more attuned to suing disingenuous companies individually.