Bankruptcy judge rules in support of $375 million creditor lawsuit against Morgan Stanley – Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS)
- Morgan Stanley MRS creditors can move forward with a lawsuit over dividends paid before grocery chain Tops Friendly Markets filed Chapter 11.
- Creditors filed the claims in 2020 against Morgan Stanley Investment Management and other former owners of Tops, alleging the private equity owners paid themselves $375 million in dividends while leaving Tops insolvent, unable to service its debts. and his retirement obligations, the Wall Street Journal reported.
- The lawsuit alleged that the private equity owners paid themselves four separate dividends worth hundreds of millions of dollars despite knowing that the company’s pension plans were grossly underfunded.
- Bankruptcy judge Robert Drain said the trustee made a plausible argument to support the case over objections from private equity owners.
- He pointed out how the bankruptcy code allows private equity owners to “loot private companies at the expense of their uninitiated creditors with impunity.”
- Morgan Stanley argued that if the dividends had made Tops insolvent, it would not have operated for so many years after paying the dividends between 2009 and 2013.
- “Tops and Morgan Stanley were well aware of the dire state of the United Food and Commercial Workers pension plan and knew it would become insolvent,” the judge said.
- Price action: MS shares traded down 3.54% to $76.50 pre-market when last checked on Friday.
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