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Better outlook for Maxwell's creditors good news on payo $3bn

Administrators to the late Robert Maxwell's American business empire have increased their estimate of projected pay-outs by around 5 per cent of roughly $3bn (pounds 1.9bn) owed to creditors.

The latest report by Price Waterhouse on the administration of Maxwell Communication Corporation (MCC) also discloses that fees and legal costs have surpassed $74m since the group went bust four years ago.

The accountants estimate an "optimistic" forecast for their fees and legal costs would be $81m. Their "pessimistic" view is $86m.

Maxwell pensioners will benefit from a proposed fifth payout by the administrators in the autumn of 3 per cent of the $3bn claims. Price Waterhouse has already paid out around $1bn.

Price Waterhouse announced in their sixth report to creditors this week that 44 to 48 per cent of claims will ultimately be settled, a rise from 38 to 43 per cent initially forecast. This does not include legal claims made against various banks and professional advisers by the administrators.

Price Waterhouse is suing three of Maxwell's banks for around $140m, and Maxwell's auditor Coopers & Lybrand for an undisclosed sum. A court decision on the banks' case is expected in November, when the trial over the Coopers audit is due to start.

It is also suing Whitman & Ransom, the New York law firm which advised Macmillan, formerly part of MCC, over a number of deals, but refuses to speculate on how much could be gained for creditors.

Price Waterhouse hopes to secure a deal with Arthur Andersen, liquidators of the private side of the Maxwell empire, over certain disrupted assets.