RBS shareholders in united front

Picture: Getty
Picture: Getty
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A LOOMING court hearing in London is poised to rule that at least two lawsuits alleging shareholders were misled in Royal Bank of Scotland’s £12 billion capital-raising in 2008 will be heard together.

Lawyers representing more than 100 institutional investors and about 12,000 small shareholders in RBS believe the judge will decide that separate hearings for legal actions would mean unnecessary duplication and waste time and money.

The Chancery Court “case management meeting” before a judge, due to be heard around 16-17 September, is also expected to set a deadline for the bank’s defence against the allegations, thought likely to be around late November.

One source said: “This meeting, essentially an administrative exercise, follows an earlier case management meeting in August.

“It is a measure of the complexity of the RBS case, with the various plaintiff groups involved, that it has taken two case management meetings rather than one.

“But this one should be definitive, setting the ground rules of the court hearing even if that might still take quite some time to be heard.”

The RBoS Shareholders Action Group’s claim, said to be potentially worth up to £4bn, is backed by nearly 100 past and present institutional investors in RBS, and also represents about 12,000 small shareholders.

In a smaller action, said to be worth hundreds of millions of pounds, UK legal firm Stewarts Law has brought a case on behalf of about 20 institutional investors in RBS that manage retirement funds in the UK, United States and Canada.

News of the meeting comes after The Scotsman yesterday revealed two major institutional investors in RBS have hired international business litigation specialists Quinn Emanuel to weigh up whether they were misled by the bank in the stock market rights issue that followed the bank’s disastrous acquisition of ABN Amro in 2007.

Quinn Emanuel, understood to be monitoring legal developments for Edinburgh-based Standard Life Investments (SLI) and Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM) without yet initiating any proceedings, attended the first case management meeting in early August.

It comes as lawyers for another group of private investors – the RBS Rights Issue Action Group, representing more than 8,000 people – said yesterday they were confident of issuing proceedings against the bank.

Leon Kaye, of Leon Kaye Solicitors, which specialises in class actions, told The Scotsman: “We met our barristers yesterday, and we remain confident of issuing proceedings.”