May 15, 2018 / 2:36 AM / 7 months ago

Australia's embattled AMP in class-action feeding frenzy

SYDNEY, May 15 (Reuters) - Australian law firm Maurice Blackburn said on Tuesday it planned to sue wealth manager AMP Ltd on behalf of shareholders after allegations of board-level misconduct sent its shares tumbling, the fifth potential lawsuit against the company.

AMP has lost nearly a fifth of its value or A$2.5 billion ($1.9 billion) since the wrongdoing was exposed by a government-ordered inquiry into Australia’s finance sector last month, raising the prospect of legal fallout.

Two law firms have already filed shareholder class actions against AMP, while media reports have said another two are considering litigation against the 169-year-old company.

AMP declined comment on Tuesday. It has said it would defend itself against the two lawsuits that have been filed.

“Investors have every right to be disappointed with AMP’s conduct,” Andrew Watson, the National Head of Class Actions at law firm Maurice Blackburn, said in a statement.

Maurice Blackburn said its suit would offer “extraordinarily low funding commissions” and would not charge fees unless it won, a sign of competition between firms to sign up AMP shareholders.

The Maurice Blackburn action is being funded by Singapore-based International Litigation Funding Partners. The Maurice Blackburn statement did not disclose how much its litigation funder would receive if it won.

Global law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart and Sullivan, and Melbourne-based firm Phi Finney McDonald tabled two separate actions against AMP last week.

The Australian Financial Review has reported Australian firms Slater & Gordon Ltd and Shine Lawyers Pty Ltd are also preparing lawsuits against AMP. Slater & Gordon and Shine were not immediately available for comment.

$1 = 1.3280 Australian dollars Reporting by Paulina Duran; Editing by Byron Kaye and Stephen Coates

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