DaimlerChrysler Settles Merger Suit

The big news today is the announcement of a proposed $300 million settlement in the securities class action against DaimlerChrysler AG. The suit alleges that Daimler-Benz AG misrepresented the acquisition of Chrysler as a “merger of equals” to avoid paying Chrysler shareholders a takeover premium for their shares.

A separate suit brought by billionaire financier Kirk Kerkorian, who was Chrysler’s largest single shareholder at the time of the merger, is unaffected by the settlement because Kerkorian will opt out of the class. Kerkorian’s case is set for a December trial in the D. of Del.

Bloomberg appears to have the most comprehensive article on the settlement (at least as of this posting). The State Board of Adminstration of Florida, a teacher’s and workers’ pension fund that acted as one of the lead plaintiffs in the case, has issued a press release.

Quote of note (Bloomberg): “The offer, before any opt-outs, is worth about 43 cents a share, minus attorneys’ fees. With Kerkorian opting out, the remaining shareholders would each receive about 47 cents per share, minus attorneys’ fees. If approved, the settlement would be one of the largest ever in a securities fraud case, according to Bloomberg data. The agreement is tied for ninth place among the largest recoveries in shareholder class-action suits in history, the data shows.”

Quote of note II (Bloomberg): “Han Tjan, a spokesman for the Stuttgart, Germany-based automaker, said the company has insurance to cover $220 million of the settlement. DaimlerChrysler officials say the class-action claims by investors other than Kerkorian presented the ‘major risk’ in the case. ‘Now we’ll concentrate on the suit with Tracinda [Kerkorian’s holding company],’ company spokesman Hartmut Schick said.”

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