Ohio Public Employees Retirement System, Ohio State Teachers' Retirement System, Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation and the Trenton-based New Jersey Department of Treasury were named co-lead plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against Marsh & McLennan Cos. Inc. Michelle Gatchell, spokeswoman for Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro, who is representing the three Columbus-based funds, said the three Ohio funds own a combined 45 million shares of Marsh & McLennan. The State of New Jersey's holdings are 1.7 million.
The securities fraud lawsuit, filed in federal district court in New York, seeks to recover losses suffered by investors when Marsh & McLennan shares fell sharply after news of an investigation of alleged price-fixing, bid-rigging and accepting improper payments from other insurance companies. In the two days following the announcement of the investigation, Marsh & McLennan lost $9 billion in market capital as the company's stock dropped 50%. Marsh & McLennan shares traded around $46 before the bid-rigging charges were leveled; they fell to as low as $22.10 before recovering, reaching a closing low of $24.10 on Oct. 19.
"Obtaining co-lead plaintiff status will allow Ohio to have a strong say in the direction this litigation takes," Mr. Petro said in a news release.
Earlier today, Marsh & McLellan agreed to pay $850 million to settle bid-rigging charges filed by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. The company neither denied nor admitted guilt.