Abbey wins settlement over Barings venture

Abbey National is believed to have won about pounds 40m in an out- of- court settlement with the Dutch bank ING and the administrators of Barings, in a dispute over a joint derivatives company.

When Barings collapsed in February 1995, its new owners withdrew support for a profitable joint operation called Abbey National Barings Derivatives, which was forced to curtail its activities as a result.

This January, Abbey issued a writ claiming breach of a five-year agreement with Barings to provide an office and personnel to run the joint operation.

The writ against Barings' administrators, Nigel Hamilton, Alan Bloom and Maggie Mills of Ernst & Young, claimed breach of the agreement and also alleged that ING had procured the breach.

Neither side would comment on the terms of the out-of-court settlement, but it is thought that pounds 30m of the money to be paid to Abbey National is for cash balances held in the business at the time Barings collapsed.

In addition, Abbey is thought to have claimed up to pounds 25m for loss of profits under the five-year agreement, based on the pounds 5m the joint company had made in its first full-year up to the Barings collapse.

The bank appears to have settled for about pounds 10m on top of the cash balances. Analysts said only the lost derivatives profits would affect Abbey National's own profit and loss account.

For much of last year the derivatives firm was able only to service existing customers and could not seek out new business, as a result of the loss of Barings staff and premises, which forced it to rely on a core group of Abbey personnel.

Abbey made clear at the time that the damage to the business was not a result of the Barings collapse but of actions taken afterwards by the administrators and ING, which bought Barings shortly after the crisis broke.

The firm, renamed Abbey National Financial Products, was not reopened to new business until October, but it has been hiring specialist staff and is believed to have been profitable for the following three months.

In a statement, the two sides said they had reached a "mutually satisfactory settlement" to the litigation.

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