RBS Averts Trial as Investors Accept $258 Million Settlement

  • Shareholder group accepts 82 pence a share settlement offer
  • Decision is likely to end weeks of uncertainty over trial

Traffic leaves light trails while passing a Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc bank branch in London, U.K., on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017. RBS is preparing to cut more than 1 billion pounds ($1.25 billion) of annual operating costs by eliminating jobs and closing branches as it seeks to bolster profitability, said a person with knowledge of the plans.

Photographer: Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg

Investors suing Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc over a 2008 rights offering accepted a 200 million-pound ($258 million) settlement offer, ending weeks of uncertainty over a London court case that threatened to dredge up the bank’s embarrassing bailout during the global financial crisis.

Shareholders who had held out for an improved offer finally accepted RBS’s 82 pence per share proposal during a Monday evening vote, a spokesman for the group said Tuesday. The agreement is likely to be approved Wednesday by a judge.

The last week has been filled with speculation about holdout investors’s attempts to raise enough money to fight on while larger shareholders and funders were happy with the bank’s offer. The confusion kept the possibility alive of seeing the company’s former Chief Executive Officer Fred Goodwin give evidence about the difficult period for the bank.

The claimants argued that the bank deliberately concealed its financial weaknesses over its 12 billion-pound emergency rights offering. The bank disputed that it had covered up any of its actions, saying the rights-issue prospectus included all the information investors needed, and the claimants were overlooking how volatile markets were in 2008.

A spokesman for RBS declined to comment. Sky News earlier reported the settlement.

The suit, filed in March 2013, swelled to over 27,000 claimants seeking as much as 4 billion pounds, but the bank set aside 800 million pounds to settle with as many investors as possible in a bid to put some distance between current management and decisions that were made a decade ago. The majority of investors settled before the trial reached court.

The case is John Greenwood v. Frederick Goodwin & Ors, High Court of Justice, Chancery Division.

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