Wednesday 17 January 2018

IBRC set for two bondholder battles

Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

IBRC, the former Anglo Irish Bank, is set to face off against two junior bondholders in separate legal battles in the New Year.

Cayman Island-based hedge fund Fir Tree is set to bring an appeal early next year against a US court ruling that gave Anglo Irish Bank immunity from being sued in a row over a $200m (€155m) subordinated bond back in 2011.

IBRC was granted immunity by a New York District Court judge in November 2011 after Fir Tree tried to block it from moving assets out of the US back to Ireland to help pay for the cost of its state rescue. The bondholders tried to block the move and wanted their debts honoured.

That has been appealed and a hearing is now scheduled to go ahead early next year.

"Sovereign immunity" means foreign states cannot be sued in the US.

Fir Tree had argued that the question of "sovereign immunity" did not arise because of a 1950 Friendship Treaty between Ireland and the United States.

The court said that Fir Tree had no right to action under that treaty as the hedge funds were based in the Cayman Islands, and dismissed the case.

But Fir Tree appealed against the ruling earlier this year and has now been given a date for a hearing at the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, a higher court than the New York body that heard the original case.

The US case now looks set to go ahead before IBRC's mooted legal appeal against a second hedge fund this time in the UK.

That comes after a UK court found that the bank acted illegally when it inflicted losses on bondholder Assenagon, a German hedge fund, through a "coercive" buyback of bonds.

The bond deal was controversial because the bank offered lenders a fraction of the value of their bonds, but structured the deal so that any investors who rejected the offer suffered an even bigger loss.

The court found against IBRC but the bank is set to appeal, with the backing of the Government, and the case is expected to go ahead in March.

Irish Independent

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