ACHIEVEMENTS

CASE
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Fortis Bank Case (The Netherlands): Largest securities settlement in Europe to date

In a case arising out of the subprime mortgage crisis, Kessler Topaz, on behalf of a number of large institutional investors, sued Fortis Bank, N.V. (Fortis) and its successor companies BNP Paribas and Ageas NL for fraud in connection with the company’s failed 2007 attempt to acquire Dutch bank ABN Amro Holding NV (ABN Amro). Our lawsuit alleged that Fortis misrepresented the value of its collateralized debt obligations, its exposure to subprime-related mortgage-backed securities, and the extent to which the decision to acquire ABN Amro jeopardized its solvency. After the acquisition failed, Fortis encountered financial difficulties and broke up in the fall of 2008. Its investors lost as much as 90% of the value of their investments. Our lawsuit survived rigorous jurisdictional challenges in the Netherlands Court of Appeals, and proceedings on the merits were pending when we were able to successfully negotiate a $1. billion multiparty settlement (including other plaintiff groups in the Netherlands and Belgium). The settlement was the largest settlement in Europe to date. Because of the Dutch procedural mechanism for collective settlements (known as the “WCAM”), all investors, including also those who had not participated in lawsuits against the company, were eligible to file claims for a portion of the settlement proceedings. However, Kessler Topaz’s clients and other investors who had directly pursued litigation against the company and driven the settlement negotiations received settlement payouts more than a year before other eligible Fortis investors.

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