An agreement has been reached on how to compensate members of the Nortel pension scheme after years of negotiations since the company went bust in 2009.
Around $7.3bn (£5.7bn) of the collapsed telecom company's assets are now expected to be distributed between all of the firm's creditors, including around 33,000 UK scheme members.
The agreement will put an end to the six-year global feud between the scheme's trustees and members, and bond holders, which has seen legal action across international borders in the UK, US and Canada.
At the time of the company's collapse, which triggered insolvency filings in London, Delaware and Toronto, the Nortel UK scheme trustee was one of the largest creditors. The scheme recorded a deficit of more than £2bn on a buyout basis.
The case wound its way through UK courts, culminating in a July 2013 decision by the Supreme Court which said a financial support direction (FSD) issued by The Pensions Regulator (TPR) against an insolvent firm ranked as a provable debt.
The battle then crossed the Atlantic to the US and Canada, where in May 2015, judges in the jurisdictions ruled the company's residual assets should be allocated on a pro-rata basis. However, bond holders appealed the decision, arguing it would lead to an "inequitable result".
Although the Canadian court denied leave to appeal its decision, an appeal process was started in the US. However, following further negotiations, an independent agreement has been reached to divide the assets.
The agreement remains subject to creditor approval in the various jurisdictions, but UK creditors should now receive around 14% or $1bn (£0.84bn) of the company's assets.
Hogan Lovells, the firm which represents the trustees, head of pensions litigation Angela Dimsdale Gill said the trustee was grateful.
"This is an enormous step on the road to conclusion," she said. "It is very much hoped that the distribution of funds to all creditors everywhere is now genuinely within sight. The former employees of Nortel, in whatever country, who created its wealth, many of whom are elderly and vulnerable, have waited a long time for the end of this battle.
"The current consensus is the fruit of ceaseless efforts by the parties across many months since the trial judgments came out last year. The Trustee is very pleased that through hard work, good faith and determination, it has been possible to reach a compromise of this long-running dispute. It is grateful to everyone who has played a part in getting this far."
PwC head of pensions credit advisory practice Jonathon Land, who is adviser to Nortel's trustees, said the case demonstrated professional integrity.
"An agreement is very welcome, and brings nearer the day when distributions might be made to creditors, including the trustee of Nortel's UK pension scheme," he said. "The trustee directors have acted with great professional integrity seeking to achieve the best possible deal for their members.
"This case will impact how pension scheme creditors are treated for years to come. Groups increasingly operate across geographical and legal boundaries and pension scheme creditors must ensure that they really understand where their legal support comes from."
The recent fall in value of the pound compared to the dollar means the value of the firm's assets has grown by £1.25bn since the US and Canadian courts gave their ruling last May.
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