Burford eyes US listing after shareholder action ends

Bogart: Set for board appointment

A shareholder action against Burford Capital has been discontinued as it heads for a second listing in the US, the litigation funder announced today.

The company continues to plot a recovery from last summer’s short-selling attack that saw its share price drop by more than half.

In an update to the London Stock Exchange today, Burford reported that the US securities class action filed in August 2019 has been withdrawn by the claimants and dismissed in its entirety.

“There is no litigation pending against Burford at present other than ordinary course skirmishing within a small number of ongoing funded investment matters,” it said.

Part of the attack by Muddy Waters focused on Burford’s corporate governance by being listed on AIM – where it was the largest company at one time – and the funder has previously said it planned either to add a US listing or to migrate to the main market in London.

It said today it would now start the process of seeking a full US listing to allow its share to trade on both the US exchange and AIM. Burford does not intend to issue new equity as part of the US listing

Burford also confirmed that, in response to shareholder pressure, it would provide in its 2019 annual report information about management pay “consistent with the disclosure obligations to which it will be subject under its potential US listing even though those obligations will not yet have taken effect”.

More governance changes have come with a series of management appointments and the funder is searching for two new independent directors to replace David Lowe, who will leave the board at the May 2020 AGM, and chairman Sir Peter Middleton, who will stand down at 2021’s AGM.

They should be nominated in time for this year’s AGM, while shareholders will also be asked to approve the nomination of chief executive Christopher Bogart to the board.

In other funding news, Woodsford Litigation Funding has entered the Canadian market with the appointment two senior litigators and a business professional with significant experience in Canada’s oil and gas service industry.

Mark Spiteri, Woodsford’s finance and commercial director, said: “These appointments are a graphic illustration of both the size of the opportunity Woodsford has identified in Canada..

“Following significant diligence, we firmly believe in the potential of the Canadian market. With these three appointments we have the key markets on both sides of the country covered. The expertise in our new Canadian team will allow us to fund all types of disputes including class actions, energy disputes, IP claims and general commercial litigation.”

RBG Holdings plc – the listed business that owns City law firm Rosenblatt and its litigation funding subsidiary – yesterday announced the pre-trial settlement of Project Blue Sky, one of its internally funded litigation cases. It the first successful completion of a case that the group has invested in since its flotation in May 2018.

Project Blue Sky was a damages-based agreement for a shareholder dispute case. The parties have settled just over a year since the claim was filed, and a year before the scheduled trial.

As well as acting for the claimant, the group part-financed the case, delivering a return on the investment in the case, in terms of cash and time, of 184%, with an internal rate of return of 317%.

Project Blue Sky is the group’s smallest self-funded litigation case; it has invested £2.5m in 11 other cases which are yet to conclude.

“It demonstrates the significant returns that can be achieved through the group’s litigation finance strategy,” the company told investors.

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