Bloomberg the Company & Products

Bloomberg Anywhere Login

Bloomberg

Connecting decision makers to a dynamic network of information, people and ideas, Bloomberg quickly and accurately delivers business and financial information, news and insight around the world.

Company

Financial Products

Enterprise Products

Media

Customer Support

  • Americas

    +1 212 318 2000

  • Europe, Middle East, & Africa

    +44 20 7330 7500

  • Asia Pacific

    +65 6212 1000

Communications

Industry Products

Media Services

Follow Us

Olam Drops Defamation Lawsuit Against Carson Block

Don't Miss Out —
Follow us on:
Olam Chief Executive Officer Sunny Verghese
Olam Chief Executive Officer Sunny Verghese said the statements were designed to panic shareholders of the company and the stock slumped 20 percent. Photographer: Munshi Ahmed/Bloomberg

April 5 (Bloomberg) -- Olam International Ltd., the commodity trader targeted by Carson Block, dropped its defamation lawsuit against the short seller and his research firm Muddy Waters LLC, bowing to advice from shareholders to focus on its business.

“After considering feedback received from several of its shareholders, Olam has decided it should now move forward and focus resources and management attention to deliver value for its continuing shareholders and stakeholders,” the world’s second-largest rice trader said in a statement to the Singapore stock exchange today.

Olam said it hasn’t been able to serve the lawsuit filed in the Singapore High Court on Block. The company had sought unspecified damages, costs and an injunction against republication of Block’s comments made at a hedge-fund conference in London in November.

“Muddy Waters always expected a favorable outcome from this suit, whether at this stage or through a verdict,” Block said today in an e-mail.

The public war of words between Olam and Block began on Nov. 19 when the Muddy Waters research director questioned the Singapore-based company’s finances and accounting practices. Olam Chief Executive Officer Sunny Verghese said the statements were designed to panic shareholders of the company and the stock slumped about 20 percent by mid-December.

‘Paper Judgment’

On March 20, it topped the price it last traded at in Singapore before Block’s attack, hitting S$1.765. The shares fell 0.3 percent to close at S$1.665 today.

“There’s no point pursuing a company or person with no assets here,” said David Gerald, president of the Securities Investors Association of Singapore, which represents retail shareholders. “Even if Olam eventually wins, it’s just a paper judgment. It’s better to focus on what they do best instead of spending time and effort on the lawsuit.”

Since Block and Muddy Waters first questioned Olam’s finances, the company has raised $712.5 million in new bonds, scrapped an investment in a sugar mill and said it may ratchet back spending as part of an annual review of its businesses, to be completed this month. It’s also won increased backing from Temasek Holdings Pte., Singapore’s state investment firm and now Olam’s biggest shareholder.

Stephen Forshaw, a Temasek spokesman, declined to comment.

The case is Olam International Ltd. v Muddy Waters LLC, Carson Block. S987/2012. Singapore High Court.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrea Tan in Singapore at atan17@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Douglas Wong at dwong19@bloomberg.net

Please upgrade your Browser

Your browser is out-of-date. Please download one of these excellent browsers:

Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera or Internet Explorer.