Antitrust Law Daily Additional time to name plaintiffs granted in European Government Bonds price fixing suit
Friday, November 6, 2020

Additional time to name plaintiffs granted in European Government Bonds price fixing suit

By Thomas G. Wolfe, J.D.

The court previously dismissed the plaintiffs’ complaint without prejudice against certain primary dealer banks and financial institutions for lack of antitrust standing.

In a price fixing action brought by persons or entities that purchased or sold European Government Bonds (EGBs) in the United States against primary dealer banks or financial institutions that brokered or traded the EGBs, the federal district court in New York City granted the plaintiffs’ request for an extension of time to amend their complaint to identify new plaintiffs that might overcome the obstacle of antitrust standing in the case previously raised by the court. Despite opposition raised by the defendants, they would not be prejudiced by the relatively short extension of 38 days. Further, the defendants had agreed to a prior extension of comparable length (In re European Government Bonds Antitrust Litigation, November 5, 2020, Marrero, V.).

Backdrop. In July 2020, the court addressed jurisdictional and standing issues in the case, maintaining that the proposed class representatives were required to demonstrate that they had suffered antitrust injury and that they were efficient enforcers of the antitrust laws. Because the plaintiffs did not allege that they transacted EGBs with Bank of America Merrill Lynch International Designated Activity Company (BAML), over which the court also lacked personal jurisdiction, as well as UniCredit Bank AG and UniCredit Capital Markets LLC (collectively, UniCredit), the court dismissed the complaint against those institutions for lack of antitrust standing. Moreover, the court expressed its concern that, in connection with the plaintiffs’ claims against the defendants for price fixing and an antitrust conspiracy concerning the EGBs, none of the plaintiffs’ allegations provided a basis to infer the culpability of any specific, named institution.

After the plaintiffs requested leave in August 2020 to amend their complaint, the parties conferred, resulting in the court’s Fifth Amended Case Management Order. In keeping with the defendant financial institutions agreement with the plaintiffs, the court granted an extension for the plaintiffs to "identify in writing any new plaintiffs proposed to be named in the amended complaint." However, in early November, BAML and UniCredit opposed the plaintiffs’ second request for an extension of time to identify any proposed new plaintiffs.

Court’s ruling. The court was not persuaded by BAML and UniCredit that the extension should be denied. Noting that (1) UniCredit and BAML had "already agreed to wait for Plaintiffs to identify proposed new plaintiffs to be named in an amended complaint" (2) the "relatively short extension of 38 days at issue here would not prejudice UniCredit or BAML any more than the original 45 days or first extension to which UniCredit and BAML agreed," the court affirmed its prior November 3, 2020, order, granting the plaintiffs’ request for an extension and requiring them to notify the defendant financial institutions by December 11, 2020, of any additional plaintiffs proposed to be named.

The case is No. 1:19-cv-02601-VM.

Attorneys: Charles Z. Kopel (Lowey Dannenberg, P.C.) and Christian Levis (Lowey Dannenberg P.C.) for Ohio Carpenters' Pension Fund. Adam Selim Hakki (Shearman & Sterling LLP) for Bank of America, N.A., Bank of America Merrill Lynch International Designated Activity Company and Merrill Lynch Inc. Paul Steel Mishkin (Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP) for NatWest Markets PLC and NatWest Markets Securities Inc. Boris Bershteyn (Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP) for UniCredit Capital Markets LLC. Aidan John Synnott (Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton, & Garrison LLP) for Nomura Securities International Inc. Amy Feagles (Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP) for UBS AG.

Companies: Ohio Carpenters' Pension Fund; Bank of America, N.A.; Bank of America Merrill Lynch International Designated Activity Co.; Merrill Lynch Inc.; NatWest Markets PLC; NatWest Markets Securities Inc.; UniCredit Capital Markets LLC; Nomura Securities International Inc.; UBS AG

MainStory: TopStory Antitrust NewYorkNews GCNNews

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