On May 29, the Amsterdam Court of Appeals gave final approval to a historic $381 million settlement negotiated by a coalition of non-U.S. pension funds that sued Royal Dutch Shell over its oil reserves reporting.
The settlement is the largest obtained by shareholders through European legal proceedings and is the first to include investors from across the Continent, according to Grant & Eisenhofer, a Delaware-based law firm that represented the investors. The settlement includes Dutch pension giant Stichting Pensioenfonds ABP and more than 150 pension funds from 17 European nations, plus Canada and Australia, that bought Shell shares outside the United States from April 8, 1999, to March 18, 2004.
"We are pleased that the Amsterdam Court of Appeals has issued its final approval on this historic settlement, which represents a watershed outcome for European and other non-U.S. investors in gaining substantial, collective recovery in one of the most high-profile securities cases in recent years," Jay Eisenhofer, co-managing partner of Grant & Eisenhofer, said in a press release.
"It is important that investors have a proper mechanism and forum for pursuing securities claims in European courts--the Amsterdam Court of Appeals has done a tremendous service for advancing shareholder rights in its handling of the Shell case," Eisenhofer said. "This was a uniquely European resolution in the context of a securities fraud, but one that can present huge implications in other disputes going forward."
The investors sued after Shell reduced its oil and gas reserve estimates by more than 33 percent in early 2004, which prompted the company's shares to fall.
Separately, U.S. investors obtained an $89.5 million settlement from Shell. That accord, which was approved by a federal judge in New Jersey in September 2008, included PricewaterhouseCoopers and KPMG Accountants N.V. as defendants. The claims by the foreign pension funds that bought Shell stock from non-U.S. exchanges were dismissed from the U.S. proceedings. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission also obtained a $120 million settlement from Shell.