Judge Rules Against Sofaer In Wireless Lawsuit

Jun 15 2011 | 2:28am ET

Sofaer Capital is going to have to make due without the $10 million it lent to a Hong Kong-based wireless communications company four years ago.

A federal judge in Indianapolis dismissed the London-based hedge fund's 2009 lawsuit against mobile phone company Brightpoint, alleging that the company defrauded Sofaer into making the loan to Chinatron Group Holdings. According to Sofaer, Brightpoint CEO Bob Laikin was a founding shareholder of Chinatron, which was in danger of defaulting on its loan from Brightpoint.

"If Chinatron could not repay its debt to Brightpoint by the end of 2007, Brightpoint would be forced to record it as 'bad debt' on its books, which would be subject to scrutiny by Brightpoint's audit committee, a situation Laikin very much wanted to avoid," the hedge fund alleged in its lawsuit.

Sofaer came to the rescue, lending Chinatron $10 million—which it used to repay Brightpoint—on the expectation it would get a $12 million repayment a few months later, after Chinatron sold its Mobiltron France subsidiary to Brightpoint.

But the deal never happened, even though Sofaer alleged that Laikin called the Mobiltron transaction "as good as a done deal."

That claim wasn't good enough for U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt, who wrote, "Sofaer simply had to understand that there was some risk that the deal would fall apart. Apparently, though, Sofaer was blinded by rose-colored glasses, believing that a deal in its infancy was actually carved in stone."

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