BY Fraser Tennant
Dogged by allegations of corruption going back several years, Petrobras has announced its agreement to pay $2.95bn to settle the securities class action lawsuit brought on behalf of investors harmed by a huge corruption scandal at the Brazilian state oil giant.
Filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, the agreement, which is subject to approval by the court, is intended to resolve all pending and prospective claims by purchasers of Petrobras securities in the US and by purchasers of Petrobras securities that are listed for trading in the US.
The agreement eliminates the risk of an adverse judgment which, as Petrobras has previously stated, could have a material adverse effect on the company and its financial situation, and puts an end to the uncertainties, burdens and costs of protracted litigation.
Under the proposed settlement, Petrobras has agreed to pay $2.95bn to resolve claims in two instalments – one $983m and another of $984m. The first instalment will be paid within 10 days of preliminary approval of the settlement by the court. The second instalment will be paid within 10 days of final approval of the settlement. It has also been agreed that a third instalment will be paid six months after final approval.
The court has stated that the total settlement amount will be recognised in the fourth quarter of 2017.
In a statement, Petrobras said that the agreement is in “the company’s best interest and that of its shareholders, given the risks of a verdict advised by a jury, particularities of US procedure and securities laws, as well its assessment of the status of the class action and the nature of such litigation in the US”.
In the US, only approximately 0.3 percent of securities-related class actions proceed to trial.
The agreement is scheduled to be submitted to the district court in New York for review. If preliminary approval is granted, the court will notify the members of the class of the terms of the proposed settlement. After considering any objections and a hearing on the fairness of the proposed settlement, the court will decide whether to grant final approval.
As a result of the agreement, the parties will ask the US Supreme Court to defer consideration of Petrobras’s petition for a writ of certiorari – which was scheduled for 5 January 2018 – pending final approval of the proposed settlement.