Leighton Sued by Shareholders for Brisbane Link Writedown

Leighton Holdings Ltd. was sued by shareholders who claim they were misled in 2011 before Australia’s biggest construction company reversed a profit forecast.

Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, a Melbourne-based class action firm, filed the suit in federal court in Sydney today on behalf of more than 2,000 shareholders who bought Leighton shares between Aug. 16, 2010, and April 11, 2011, the lawyers said in an e-mailed statement.

In February 2011, Leighton forecast net income for the fiscal year of A$480 million ($454 million). Two months later, on April 11, 2011, the builder projected it would have a loss of A$427 million for the year as it wrote off A$1.1 billion relating to the Brisbane Airport Link project, a Victorian desalination plant project and a Dubai-based joint venture. Shares slumped as much as 15 percent on April 14, the first day of trading following the statement.

Leighton, in a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange today, said the claim had no basis and would be contested.

Leighton had reduced its unpublished, private profit forecast for the Brisbane Airport Link, its biggest project, to A$133 million from A$407 million around November 2010, according to the statement of claim. On March 18, 2011, Leighton executives were told at a meeting that the Brisbane Airport Link would generate a loss of A$182 million to A$610 million, according to the statement of claim.

The case is Inabu Pty as Trustee for the Alidas Superannuation Fund v. Leighton Holdings Ltd. NSD2244/2013. Federal Court of Australia (Sydney).

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