View from City Road: Pay-offs from a Maxwell settlement

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The Independent Online
The willingness of the three institutions facing a pounds 200m claim from the Mirror Group pension trustees to sit down and discuss an out-of-court settlement is good news for Maxwell pensioners. As always, the principal winners from a court case taking up to six months and costing many millions would be the monstrous regiment of lawyers.

This would be a drain on the resources of the trustees, who have to ensure the future payments to 12,000 Mirror Group pensioners and of the Mirror Group itself, which has underwritten the trustees' efforts to recover the missing millions.

Last September the Maxwell Pensioners Trust, set up by the Government to help the victims of the pounds 400m Maxwell pensions fraud, launched an initiative to negotiate a global settlement of all Maxwell-related claims. The move by the trust, headed by Sir John Cuckney, was intended to head off just the kind of costly court case brought by the Mirror Group pension trustees.

Sir John has been instrumental in bringing the trustees, Invesco, Capel-Cure Myers and Lehman to the negotiating table. The institutions would now be wise to be generous.

They will reap considerable benefits from a settlement. No more Maxwell-related bad press every time they announce their results; no more Maxwell-related cautions from investment analysts. And a pay-off for shareholders: after Invesco announced it was talking yesterday, its share price rose 11p to 229p.

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