On 19 June 2012, a settlement of $200 million was agreed to by all parties to the Centro class actions, with $150 million going to Maurice Blackburn group members. Read Justice Middleton's judgement.
A Notice of Settlement was sent out to all group members on 11 May 2012 regarding the settlement approval process.
The administration and distribution of the settlement was completed in January 2013.
On 9 May 2008 Maurice Blackburn commenced related class actions in the Federal Court against the ASX-listed entities Centro Properties Ltd ('Centro Properties') and Centro Retail Ltd ('Centro Retail').
The actions are brought on behalf of all those who purchased or acquired an interest in Centro Properties and/or Centro Retail securities during the relevant periods and who had entered into a funding agreement with IMF (Australia) Ltd as at the date the class actions were commenced.
The relevant period for the Centro Properties claim is 9 August 2007 to 15 February 2008 and the relevant period for the Centro Retail claim is 7 August 2007 to 15 February 2008.
The group members in the Centro class actions comprise a broad range of investors, from individuals to the largest financial institutions in Australia.
The allegations against Centro Properties and Centro Retail
It is alleged in the statements of claim that in the period August 2007 to February 2008 Centro Properties and Centro Retail breached their obligations of continuous disclosure under the ASX Listing Rules and the Corporations Act and that both companies engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct by failing to adequately disclose to their security holders and to the ASX:
- the full extent of their maturing debt obligations;
- the risk that they may not be able to refinance their maturing debts at
forecast cost or at all; and
- the risk that there was no longer a reasonable basis for their
respective profit forecasts.
By way of example, Centro Properties stated in its annual results released in August 2007 that it had no interest bearing current liabilities on its balance sheet as at 30 June 2007. Centro Properties later confirmed that the amount of interest bearing current liabilities that should have appeared on its 30 June 2007 balance sheet was $2.7 billion.
When Centro Properties and Centro Retail eventually revealed the extent of their maturing debt obligations and when they revealed that they had been unable to refinance billions of dollars of debt that had become payable, their share prices fell dramatically.