WorldCom players in fee heaven

Lawyers advising the shareholders and bondholders of defunct telecommunications giant WorldCom in their claims against Citigroup are celebrating a fee bonanza after a US judge last week awarded them $141.5m (£76.2m).

The mammoth settlement, finalised on 5 November, sees Citigroup agreeing to pay $2.6bn (£1.4bn) to settle claims that its investment banking arm helped WorldCom conceal accounting fraud and inflate its stock price.

In July 2002, WorldCom filed for the largest bankruptcy in US history after unearthing a massive $11bn (£5.93bn) accounting fraud. The New York State Common Retirement Fund acted as lead plaintiff in the claims, advised by Philadelphia’s Barrack Rodos & Bacine (BR&B) and Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann (BLB&G).

Counsel to the claimants, John Coffey and Max Berger of BLB&G and Jeffrey Golan and Leonard Barrack of BR&B, will share in the award. According to the New York Law Journal, the firms logged more than 195,000 hours on the case.

The fees award represented 5.5 per cent of the total settlement. Judge Cote described the fees request as “conservative”.

The claimants, meanwhile, are continuing actions against 17 other underwriters, including JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Deutsche Bank, as well as WorldCom’s auditor Arthur Andersen and the former directors and senior officers at the defunct telecoms giant.

Richard Rosen and Martin London of Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison acted for Citigroup.