Harbinger Calls Northern Rock Valuation 'Unreasonable'

Jun 1 2011 | 8:15am ET

Harbinger Capital Partners has gone to court insisting that collapsed British bank Northern Rock's preferred shares are worth something.

Auditors appointed by the British government determined that the nationalized bank's shares were worthless. But Harbinger, which owns a "substantial" amount of those shares, calls that valuation "utterly unreasonable."

The New York-based hedge fund said a post-nationalization "fire sale" destroyed £4 billion in Northern Rock's value. Prior to that, the preferred shares were worth £400 million.

"That destroyed the value that had already been there," Harbinger lawyer Mark Phillips said. The valuation "is wrong on almost every single level," he added. The hedge fund said that Northern Rock should pay out £322.5 million in compensation to preferred shareholders.

Harbinger will certainly be hoping for a better result than that achieved by common shareholders, including RAM Capital and SRM Global, which lost a 2009 lawsuit to review the valuation of those shares.

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