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GPT Agrees to Pay A$75 Million to Settle Securities Lawsuit

May 8 (Bloomberg) -- GPT Group, an Australian real estate trust with about A$13.9 billion ($14 billion) of assets, agreed to pay A$75 million to settle a securities lawsuit following a trial in Melbourne and before a judge’s ruling.

More than 2,300 investors, who bought GPT Management Holdings Ltd.’s stapled securities between Feb. 27, 2008, and July 6, 2008, sued in 2011, claiming the company issued misleading statements about its finances.

“The settlement provides a strong return on the losses claimed, and reflects the strength of the evidence presented at trial,” Ben Phi, class action lawyer at Slater & Gordon, which represented the plaintiffs, said in a statement today.

GPT shares plunged 15 percent, the most in more than two decades, on July 7, 2008, after the Sydney-based company cut its profit and dividend estimates as it cited worsening conditions in global financial and property markets. Credit tightening that year led to the worst global recession since the depression of the 1930s.

GPT, which denied liability under the terms of the agreement, said today that the claim was insured and the settlement won’t have a material impact on its finances.

The settlement must be approved by a Federal Court judge.

A four-week trial ended in Federal Court in Melbourne last month. Federal Court Justice Michelle Gordon, who oversaw the trial, had reserved her decision on the case.

The case is Modtech Engineering Pty v. GPT Management Holdings Ltd. VID 1408/2011. Federal Court of Australia (Melbourne).

To contact the reporter on this story: Joe Schneider in Sydney at jschneider5@bloomberg.net

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

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