LONDON - The (pounds) 276 million (U.S. $436 million) settlement reached between former Maxwell company pension schemes and ex-advisers to the late Robert Maxwell means nearly all of the (pounds) 440 million looted from the plans has been recovered.
Including four previous settlements, about (pounds) 417 million in assets has been recovered for a dozen Maxwell company plans.
Meanwhile, court battles will continue. Two former Maxwell advisers opted to continue the fight in the courts. Trustees of some Maxwell plans are seeking to win (pounds) 121 million more from them.
London-based Robson Rhodes, the liquidators of the Common Investment Fund, set up to pool Maxwell scheme investments, are seeking about (pounds) 33 million from Banque National de Paris and the French investment trust Euris, in a case that has just started. Also, Robson Rhodes and trustees of the Mirror Group Pension Scheme trustees are claiming (pounds) 88 million from Zurich-based bank Credit Suisse.
In addition, the government has made an interest-free loan of (pounds) 115 million to the funds in the form of deferred state pension payments.
On Feb. 10, the (pounds) 276 million settlement was reached, within 24 hours of a deadline set by Sir John Cuckney, who had been appointed by the government to try to achieve a global settlement.
Coopers & Lybrand, which acted as auditor for Mr. Maxwell's companies, is believed to have offered close to (pounds) 50 million to the settlement package. Coopers officials refused to say how much the firm offered, but one source close to the firm said (pounds) 50 million was "too high, but not by that much." The accounting firm has professional liability coverage to pay for losses arising from the settlement.
The other major contributions to the settlement were made by Lehman Brothers and Goldman Sachs & Co., the two New York-based investment banks that assisted Mr. Maxwell in various share dealings. Also included in the settlement are payments from Maxwell Communication Corporation PLC, a former Maxwell company.
Sources said Lehman Brothers offered about (pounds) 75 million, while Goldman Sachs offered roughly (pounds) 60 million. Officials of both banks refused to say how much they contributed, but both said the figures are too high. Both are expected to pay claims from already set-aside reserves.
About 32,000 participants and retirees will benefit from the settlement once it gets approval. Paul Stannard, partner with law firm Travers, Smith, Braithwaite, acting on behalf of Mirror Group Newspapers Trustees Ltd., said no pensioners should be short of funds.