Actions turn up heat on Barings

Bondholders advised by SJ Berwin are stepping up their campaign for compensation following the collapse of Barings merchant bank more than a year ago.

Investors who are members of Barings Perpetual Noteholders Action Group (BPNAG) are seeking leave to start legal proceedings against two Barings companies in the hands of administrators, Ernst & Young.

The action marks the beginning of a series of legal moves over the coming months.

These are expected to result in a composite claim against the two companies in administration, and against former group directors, including chair, Peter Baring.

The level of compensation being sought is understood to be worth over £100 million.

Former SJ Berwin consultant Jonathan Stone is leading the action group, which is being advised by David Harrel, SJ Berwin senior partner and head of litigation.

Harrel acknowledged that the eventual claims case against the companies and directors might take two years before it comes to court. “Inevitably, these things take some considerable time,” he said.

The action will relate to alleged defects in a Barings bonds prospectus. The claim will also target the three issuing houses involved in the £100 million bond, which was launched a year before Barings was brought down by rogue trader Nick Leeson.

The houses are Hoare Govett Corporate Finance, Barclays de Zoete Wedd and Cazenove.

A BPNAG spokesman said: “The proceedings allege a combination of omissions and untrue or misleading statements in the listing particulars. Compensation is sought under section 150 of the Financial Services Act.”

The action group has sought leave to commence proceedings against Bishopscourt, formerly known as Baring Brothers, and Barings plc. Because both companies are in administration, leave of court is required before any action can proceed.

SJ Berwin will be represented by Lawrence Cohen QC and Ewan McQuater.