WestLB, the German lender, is embroiled in a dispute with Anglo Irish Bank over alleged misrepresentation in the sale of $55m (£38.3m) worth of credit derivatives, in one of the first claims of its kind to come before the UK courts.
Lawyers have been predicting, almost since the dawn of the credit crunch, that disgruntled investors would launch a wave of mis-selling lawsuits over some of the more complex – and poorly performing – financial products they were sold.
To date, however, relatively few claims have been filed in London, as companies weigh the expense and reputational risk inherent in high-profile litigation.
The dispute between Anglo Irish, a specialist property lender that was nationalised by the Irish government in January, and WestLB raises the type of issues dozens of different companies will have been considering in the wake of the financial crisis.
The Irish bank says it purchased $55m “leveraged super senior” credit linked notes from a WestLB institutional salesman in September 2006 on the understanding that it would only hold the notes as a short-term investment.
According to a preliminary High Court judgment released yesterday, Anglo Irish claims it was assured that WestLB would buy back the notes at par value if they were not redeemed, in effect unwinding the transaction.
Following a downturn in the US and residential property market that affected the credit rating of the assets underlying the notes, Anglo Irish chose to redeem early, resulting in a net loss of about $43m, the bank claims.
Anglo Irish has taped records of most of the conversations with the WestLB salesman.
Get alerts on European companies when a new story is published