US - Five pension funds in New York and Ohio will jointly seek lead plaintiff status in a class action suit against BP, certain officers and directors and BP America, New York comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said.
The pension funds are: the New York State Common Retirement Fund; 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.
The pension funds claim to have lost US$200m from their investments in BP common stock between June 30, 2005 and June 1, 2010, the class action period.
"BP misled investors with false and misleading statements about the safety of its drilling operations and its ability to fix events like the oil spill," said DiNapoli. He had announced in June that the New York scheme planned to sue BP. (Global Pensions; June 24, 2010)
Ohio attorney general Richard Cordray added: "Institutional investors, and the Ohio Funds in particular, have been greatly harmed by BP's 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."
The lawsuit comes in response to the Deepwater Horizon explosion in April that caused a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The class action alleges BP "issued materially false and misleading statements regarding the company's safety protocols and record, as well as its ability to respond to a major oil spill".
Not all pension funds expect to take legal action against BP.
A recent GP 100 Panel survey, which canvasses the opinions of 100 of the world's largest pension scheme managers, showed that 95% of respondents did not intend to sue BP in order to recoup losses.
One respondent said: "The case against BP has yet to be established, and it is likely to be some time before we know the details. It seems somewhat premature to be talking about legal action when we don't actually know what happened!" (Global Pensions; July 6, 2010)
The Ohio funds, however, have been active on the class action front.
Last week, the American International Group agreed to pay $725m to settle a class action suit brought by the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System, the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio and the Ohio Police and Fire Pension funds. (Global Pensions; July 19, 2010)
A spokesperson at BP could not immediately be reached for comment.
This week's edition of Professional Pensions is out now.
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Removing liquidity restrictions would enable DC funds to capitalise on the potentially higher and safer returns that DB schemes have benefitted from, says Patrick Marshall.