In the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Judge Shira Scheindlin said that TGS- GS-NOPEC Geophysical Co failed to convince the court that the institutional investor would suffer irreparable harm if Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner & Smith Inc. continues redeeming clients’ ARS under the investment firm’s current procedures. The judge refused to stop the redemptions and said that the geographical exploration company has admitted that any harm caused by an improper redemption procedure can later be remedied.
Following the collapse of the auction-rate securities market, Merrill Lynch devised a redemption plan to help restore some liquidity to investors, whose ARS were now frozen. The scheme allows the investment bank to redeem partial liquidity to its clients. Anytime an issuer declared a partial redemption, Merrill would note a $25,000 share from each client account before giving out the remaining shares through a proportionate lottery.
Since October 2008, GS-NOPEC Geophysical Co held some $64.5 million in ARS accounts with Merrill. The company claims that Merrill’s redemption scheme is not in its favor.
TGS began FINRA arbitration proceedings against Merrill in November. The company wants to repurchase its ARS with interest, recession purchases, or the actual damages of its holdings’ par value. TGS later filed for injunction pending arbitration and asked the court to mandate that Merrill Lynch allocate prior and future partial redemptions solely in proportion to holdings.
The court refused. The judge said that any harm that TGS incurs can be remedied financially, which is what the company is seeking via arbitration.
TGS-NOPEC Geophysical Company v. Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc., Federal District Court Filings and Dockets, Justia
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Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner & Smith Inc.
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