Court told majority of RBS claimants want to settle

Fred Goodwin

The High Court in London was told on Tuesday morning that a majority of claimants suing Royal Bank of Scotland over its £12 billion rights issue in 2008 are willing to settle the action.

The civil trial brought by thousands of RBS investors was due to start on Monday but it has been adjourned for two days in a row as RBS carries out a last-ditch attempt to reach a settlement and avoid an embarrassing trial involving former CEO Fred Goodwin.

The plaintiffs allege the bank’s former executives misled them over RBS’s financial health ahead of the rights issue in 2008.

Just months after the rights issue, RBS had to be rescued by the UK government with a £45.8 billion bailout.

The UK’s Press Association reported from the court on Tuesday morning that a majority of claimants were willing to settle.

Jonathan Nash QC, for the claimants, told the court: “The present position is that the majority of claimants have indicated their willingness to accept the latest offer from the defendant.

“There now appears to be a good prospect that within the course of today the remaining claimants, or nearly all, will confirm they will also agree in principle so as to bring a practical end to the proceedings.”

RBS is said to be offering the shareholders 82p a share, almost double the 43.2p share it had previously offered, according to reports.

A settlement would save RBS from a lengthy trial at which former CEO Goodwin would face tough questions.

RBS, still more than 70% state-owned, denies any wrongdoing over the 2008 rights issue and says that its former bosses did not act illegally.

The bank has settled with 87% of investors who originally brought the case.

The remaining group of investors includes 9,000 retail shareholders and 20 institutional investors including Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Wells Fargo, Boeing pension fund, and some British council pension funds.