Robson tracks down pounds 180m of shares

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THREE BANKS - Lehman Brothers, Credit Suisse and Banque Nationale de Paris - are holding nearly pounds 180m of shares said to belong to the Maxwell pension funds, accountants searching for the money disclosed yesterday.

Robson Rhodes, liquidators of Bishopsgate Investment Management, the Maxwell pension funds group, said yesterday that following the return of pounds 25m of shares belonging to the pension funds by National Westminster Bank, the funds had a shortfall of pounds 434m. The accountants have only been able to secure assets of pounds 248m compared with the pounds 684m that should be in the funds.

In addition, they have identified pounds 188m worth of shares held by financial institutions that Robson Rhodes says are pension fund assets and wants returned.

Neil Cooper, head of the Robson Rhodes team, said that the largest block, worth pounds 86m, was held by Lehman Brothers, the US investment bank, which had a complex series of stocklending arrangements with Maxwell companies. Yesterday Mark Haas, an executive director of Lehman, submitted to questioning by Robson Rhodes after the High Court ruled that he had to answer questions about stocklending.

The second-largest holding is by Credit Suisse, with pounds 58m. BNP holds pounds 33m, entirely made up of shares in Euris, a French investment trust. Another pounds 9m is held by a number of other institutions, none of which has a significant stake. All three firms said they had taken the shares in good faith and did not intend to return them.