Bishopsgate's Maxwell claim fails: Fund manager could receive as little as 33p in the pound from assets

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THE MAXWELL pension fund management company has lost an attempt to win a priority claim over the assets of Maxwell Communication Corporation, the quoted company in the late publisher's empire.

The Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal by Bishopsgate Investment Management, which looked after the pension funds, that would have put its pounds 300m claim ahead of other creditors.

This means that BIM will receive up to 50p in the pound, and possibly as little as 33p, rather than the 100p it would have got if the High Court action had been successful.

However, the arithmetic is complex because two other Maxwell pensions interests have claims of pounds 80m and up to pounds 106m against MCC, for staff schemes and for works schemes.

Price Waterhouse, the administrator of MCC, has not yet agreed the size of the BIM and other claims.

BIM claimed that its money had been used by MCC to buy assets. Normally this is proved by tracing where the money goes and for what purpose it is used, but this proved difficult.

It asked the court if it could avoid the need for tracing by establishing a 'general equitable charge' over MCC assets, which would have the same effect in giving it priority. But this was the claim the appeal court dismissed.

BIM's request for leave to appeal to the Lords was dismissed and it has a month to decide whether to petition the Lords for leave to appeal.

The issue also has to return to the High Court where a judge will apply the principles of the appeal court decision to MCC, to decide what assets are available for distribution to creditors and what should be kept back to meet any 'tracing' claims that remain to be heard.

Mark Homan, joint administrator of MCC, said the timing and amount of the first dividend to creditors remained subject to further legal proceedings.

The administrators will write to creditors before the end of the month.