The liquidators to Bishopsgate Investment Management say they 'possibly' own all the shares, but Lehman also has a claim, so the fate of the entire sum is in dispute. Both sides hope to settle the matter through negotiation, but failing this they could fall back on lengthy and expensive legal action.
The proceeds would make a big difference to the Maxwell pensioners. BIM's liquidators have only recovered pounds 248m so far, compared to estimated losses of pounds 440m.
In a bizarre twist to the Maxwell saga, liquidators Neil Cooper and Ipe Jacob of Robson Rhodes were forced to co-operate with Lehman in the underwritten offering in New York yesterday of more than 80 million shares in Teva Pharmaceutical Industries. Both the liquidators and Lehman claim they own the shares, due to the way the late Mr Maxwell used the same securities again and again as collateral to raise new loans.
Mr Jacob said last night that it was 'perfect commercial logic' for the two parties to co-operate in the offering, since nothing at all would have been raised if they had not done so. Also Teva's share price had improved substantially since the dissolution of the Maxwell empire.
Ironically, 25 million of the Teva shares were handed back to the liquidators in June 1992 when National Westminster Bank became the only institution to return disputed Maxwell pension fund assets.
C Daniel Tyree, managing partner of Lehman in Europe, said yesterday: 'Lehman Brothers has spent considerable time and effort working together with Teva, Robson Rhodes and all other interested parties in order to facilitate this transaction.'Reuse content