Leading securities and corporate governance law firm Grant & Eisenhofer has been cited for winning the highest average investor recovery in securities class actions of any law firm in the U.S., according to the latest annual ranking of top plaintiffs firms by RiskMetrics Group.
Grant & Eisenhofer secured an average recovery of more than $690 million for the securities cases it settled in 2007, nearly three times the average obtained by Number 2 firm Milberg Weiss ($223 million).
Overall, Grant & Eisenhofer was the Number 2 firm for total recoveries in 2007, having gained some $3.45 billion in settlement value for its investor clients, slightly behind Milberg Weiss, which notched $3.8 billion. Notably, Grant & Eisenhofer achieved its settlement total across five cases, compared to 17 by the Number 1 firm. While some plaintiffs firms are known for churning large volumes of class actions, Grant & Eisenhofer has historically been more discerning in its litigation, focusing on the most meritorious actions. That selectivity has another benefit in that G&E has also been recognized for far fewer dismissals of its cases at the pleading stage.
This is the fifth year that New York-based RiskMetrics -- through its ISS Governance Services unit -- has issued an annual league table ranking of 50 top securities class action plaintiffs firms. The standings reflect total class action settlements in which law firms served as lead or co-lead counsel. According to ISS, "The list is intended to help institutional investors maximize shareholder value by highlighting those firms bringing in the most settlement dollars and playing the most active role in U.S. class action settlements."
Grant & Eisenhofer, which has made regular appearances at the top of the annual ISS settlement scorecard since it was initiated in 2003, turned in one of its strongest years in 2007. The firm was co-lead counsel in concluding a protracted class action against Tyco Ltd., which captured an investor settlement of more than $3.2 billion tied to the fraud-filled regime of Dennis Kozlowski. In addition to one of the largest securities recoveries on record, it represented the largest single payment ever ($3 billion) made by a corporate defendant. Before the year was out, Tyco's former auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers contributed its own $225 million to the settlement, one of the biggest payments made by an accounting firm defendant in a securities class action.
In another noteworthy outcome, Grant & Eisenhofer netted more than $320 million in a consolidated settlement over alleged fraud at auto parts supplier Delphi Corp., the former General Motors subsidiary that filed for bankruptcy in 2005. The $284 million obtained from Delphi is believed to be the largest payment ever by a bankrupt company in settling a securities case. The Delphi settlement included a $38 million payment from accounting firm Deloitte & Touche for its role in approving financial statements validating hundreds of millions of dollars in improperly recognized revenue.
Other significant recoveries in 2007 by Grant & Eisenhofer included:
-- A $58.5 million settlement with Sprint Corp. tied to the telecom
company's alleged inequitable valuation of two separate tracking
stocks, with greater value assigned to shares held by company insiders.
The outcome was especially hard fought given that the pending trial was
to be held in Sprint's hometown of Kansas City, where many of the
company's board members lived.
-- A $50 million partial recovery for investors of fallen Italian dairy
conglomerate Parmalat, whose accounting and securities schemes were
characterized by the SEC as "one of the largest and most brazen
financial frauds in history." In a still-ongoing case, Grant &
Eisenhofer gained two separate $25 million payments in 2007 from two
of Parmalat's former financial advisers, Credit Suisse and Italian bank
BNL. Additional recoveries are still expected in this sprawling
-- A $37.5 million settlement with Hollinger International, the media
property formerly controlled by now-convicted felon Conrad Black, of
whom Rupert Murdoch is said to have commented, "Conrad's problem is
that he spends like a billionaire, but he's only a millionaire."
Hollinger's own special investigative committee concluded that Black
ran the newspaper company as a "corporate kleptocracy." The
settlement included a $7.5 million payment from Hollinger's former
Also in 2007, Grant & Eisenhofer co-led an historic settlement against Royal Dutch Shell, which agreed to pay more than $450 million to a group of pan-European investors comprised of nearly 100 institutional investors in nine countries; participants included major public pension funds in the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, the U.K., France, Germany and other countries. The case stemmed from Shell's massive inflation of its oil reserves in the ground, on which investors purchased the company's securities on European exchanges. That settlement is still awaiting final approval and when finalized, will be added to future recovery totals for the firm.
"We're naturally very pleased to once again be cited in Risk Metrics annual survey at the very highest echelon of firms representing institutional investors in securities class actions," said co-managing partners Stuart Grant and Jay Eisenhofer.
"It's especially gratifying to see us come out on top for average settlement recovery, a distinction we've had in previous ISS rankings," the two attorneys added. "That reflects our commitment to stay focused on a more selective caseload than some of our peers and an equal dedication to represent investors fully in the most important actions involving financial and corporate governance abuse. We look forward to maintaining those high benchmarks in the years ahead."
Having been at the forefront of some of the biggest stock option backdating cases -- including recent major settlements announced with UnitedHealth Group and Tyson Foods -- Grant & Eisenhofer is now among firms taking a lead in actions related to the meltdown of the subprime mortgage market. The firm is currently co-lead counsel in cases against Bear Stearns, Countrywide Financial and UBS.
Note: Grant & Eisenhofer P.A. represents institutional investors and shareholders internationally in securities class actions, corporate governance actions and derivative litigation. The firm has recovered nearly $10 billion for shareholders in the last five years and was named one of the Top 5 firms for shareholder recovery by Institutional Shareholder Services as well as to the National Law Journal's list of Top Ten Plaintiffs' firms for the past three years. For more information, visit http://www.gelaw.com .