The $43.5m settlement: Ensure ASX compliance or risk losing millions

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Are your ASX disclosure compliance procedures up to scratch? Agricultural company Nufarm has agreed to shell out $43.5m to shareholders, following allegations that it failed to adequately inform the ASX of issues that would affect its profitability.

According to law firms Maurice Blackburn and Slater & Gordon, an in-principle agreement has been reached by the parties involved in the shareholder class action against Nufarm, following Federal Court mediation.

A joint statement from the firms claimed that both parties hadagreed to a conditional settlement agreement under which Nufarm will pay a total of $43.5m. It added that Nufarm had entered the agreement without any admission of liability, and that further details of the proposed settlement will remain confidential until the Federal Court has approved the settlement.

The consolidated claims allege that Nufarm did not adequately inform the ASX of the impact of the declining international glyphosate market on its business, profitability and likely debt position at various times during 2010 financial year. Claimants alleged that group members suffered losses as a result of Nufarm's conduct.

"This $43.5 million in-principle settlement agreement represents a very positive and expeditious outcome for shareholders," said Jason Geisker, Maurice Blackburn’s class action principal.

Slater & Gordon practice group leader Ben Phi added that the two law firms each represented “a significant number of Nufarm shareholders – including fund managers, retail and investment banks, self-managed super funds and mum and dad investors.

“Over the coming weeks we will be informing our respective clients about the details of the proposed settlement and the next steps," he added.

The Federal Court actions were consolidated in August 2011 and have since been jointly prosecuted by the two law firms.

The case has been presided over by Justice Middleton in the Federal Court. A settlement approval hearing is expected to be scheduled in the Federal Court later this year.

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