SJ Berwin acts for bondholders in bid to recover u100m Barings losses

SJ Berwin & Co is acting for an action group of bondholders who are considering legal action to recover money lost through the collapse of Barings Plc, the shell holding company of the merchant banking businesses bought by Dutch group ING.

David Harrel, senior partner and head of litigation, is heading a four-lawyer team with litigation partner and advocate Richard Slowe. Their aim is to recover the u100 million lost to the holders of subordinated bonds for the group of private and institutional investors, now known as the Barings Perpetual Noteholders' Action Group.

Harrel says: “I suspect the primary role is to work with the administrators/liquidators and Law Debenture, the trustees of the bonds, to ensure any lines of recovery open to the investors are followed through.”

Whether this means litigation, he says: “It certainly couldn't be ruled out. However nobody is going to thank anyone for launching litigation of a speculative nature.”

SJ Berwin's appointment comes through Nicholas Ritblat, a director of client company British Land. He says: “We are particularly upset about the way the deal was conducted as if it was a liquidation, and that ING found a way to buy the business without taking on the liabilities.”

* City firm Allison & Humphreys is acting for a preference shareholder who is also seeking recoveries, possibly via an action group.