April 20, 2004

SEC Files Amicus Brief In WorldCom Appeal

Last Friday, the SEC filed an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs in the WorldCom securities class action. Two of the defendants, Salomon Smith Barney and its former telecommunications analyst, Jack Grubman, have appealed the district court's grant of class certification to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. (The district court's decision is discussed in this post.) At issue is whether the district court properly determined that the fraud on the market theory was applicable to analysts.

The New York Times has an article on the SEC's brief. The district court held that it "comports with both common sense and probability" to find that Grubman's analyst reports affected the price of WorldCom securities and therefore to presume that WorldCom investors relied on those statements pursuant to the fraud on the market theory. The SEC reportedly supports this holding. The Second Circuit is scheduled to hear oral argument in the case on May 10.

Quote of note: "There is no reason to believe that Mr. Grubman's opinions, which relied on WorldCom's disclosures, had any distinct price impact 'over and above the price consequences of WorldCom's massive ongoing fraud,' Citigroup's [the parent company of SSB] lawyers said in their brief. As such, each investor should have to prove that he was harmed by Mr. Grubman and Salomon in individual cases, not as a class action. But lawyers at the S.E.C. countered that economic studies showed that analysts' reports affect securities prices and that their very purpose was to provide information upon which investors base their decisions."

Addition: The SEC's amicus brief can be found here (thanks to Bruce Carton for the link) and here (thanks to Paul Mackey for the link).

Posted by Lyle Roberts at April 20, 2004 7:01 PM | TrackBack
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