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Securities Law

Turquoise Hill Investors Get Mongolian Mine Suit Lead Plaintiff

Jan. 19, 2021, 9:47 PM

Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. investors who accused the company of misleading them about progress on a Mongolian copper-gold mine secured a lead plaintiff for their would-be class suit in federal court in New York.

The mining company, parent Rio Tinto PLC, and related entities allegedly failed to disclose problems with the Oyu Tolgoi mine’s design, cost, and production timing. Seven related private investment funds known as the Pentwater Funds will serve as lead plaintiff, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York said.

Liman also approved Pentwater Funds’ selection of Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossman LLP as lead counsel.

The Pentwater Funds alleged the largest losses “by orders of magnitude and have the greatest financial interest in the relief sought by the class,” Judge Lewis J. Liman’s opinion said. Their losses were about $299 million when calculated on a first-in, first-out basis and around $220 million when calculated on a last-in, first-out basis. The movant with the next-greatest financial interest alleged losses of not quite $345,000, Liman said.

The other lead plaintiff movants argued that the Pentwater Funds wouldn’t be able to fully and fairly represent the proposed class because of their 9.3% equity stake in the company and threatened litigation in Canada.

But disqualifying them “at this stage based on speculation, merely because of their large financial stake in the company, is inconsistent with” federal securities law, the opinion said. And Liman “will impose an affirmative obligation on” the funds to report any other actual litigation against the defendants to the court within five days for a conflict of interest examination.

The other movants’ arguments that the Pentwater Funds would be subject to unique defenses are all “mere speculation,” the opinion said. “If a conflict develops or facts demonstrate Pentwater Funds are not adequate” at a later litigation stage, Liman “will have the means to deal with that circumstance then.”

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP represents Turquoise Hill. Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP represents Rio Tinto.

The case is In re Turquoise Hill Res. Ltd. Sec. Litig., 2021 BL 15287, S.D.N.Y., No. 1:20-cv-08585, lead plaintiff and counsel appointed 1/15/21.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jennifer Bennett in Washington at jbennett@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com

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