Broadcom Corporation, which previously settled its options backdating related derivative suit for $118 million, announced on December 29, 2009 (here) that it had settled the separate options backdating related securities class action lawsuit pending against the company and certain of its directors and officers in exchange for its agreement to pay $160.5 million. The settlement is subject to court approval.
Because the company provided its D&O insurers with complete releases in connection with the prior derivative settlement, Broadcom apparently is funding the class action settlement entirely out of its own resources. Broadcom’s press release states that it will be recording the settlement amount as a one time charge in its fourth quarter 2009 financial statements.
Broadcom’s option backdating issues were of course recently in the news in connection with Judge Cormac Carney’s dramatic December 15, 2009 dismissal of the criminal indictments that were pending against several individual former directors and officers of the company. With the dismissal of the criminal charges and the settlements of the derivative and class action cases, Broadcom seems one step closer to finally putting its option backdating issues to rest. Judge Carney also dismissed the options backdating-related SEC enforcement action as well, though the SEC action dismissal was without prejudice. Judge Carney did also "discourage" the SEC from refilng its complaint.
In light of the circumstances surrounding Judge Carney’s dismissal of the criminal indictments, the size of the class action settlements is interesting. It certainly seems that given the concerns that Judge Carney noted in dismissing the indictments that the class action plaintiffs might face some formidable obstacles on key aspects of their case, including in particular in establishing that the defendants acted with scienter.
The dismissal of the criminal indictments doesn’t seem to have prevented a very substantial settlement of the class action, however. Indeed, the timing of the class action settlement, coming just two short weeks after the indictments were dismissed, seems to suggest that the elimination of the criminal case somehow opened the way for the class action settlement. Who knows, perhaps with the prosect of finally putting the options backdating woes in the past, the company moved quickly to get the class action case settled so that it might move on.
The Broadcom class action settlement is the third largest of the options backdating-related class action settlements, after the UnitedHealth Group settlement ($925.5 million) and the Comverse Technology settlement ($225 million). The Broadcom settlement, at $160.5 million, is just slightly larger than the $160 million Brocade Communications class action settlement.
With the addition of the Broadcom settlement, 32 of the 39 options backdating-related securities class action lawsuits that were filed have now been resolved. 23 of the cases have been settled and nine have been dismissed. My complete list of options backdating related lawsuit resolutions can be accessed here.
According to data that Adam Savett of the Securities Litigation Watch has been maintaining (here) , and with the addition of the Broadcom class action settlement, the 23 options backdating related settlements total approximately $1.94 billion. The average options backdating class action settlement has been $84.3 million, but if the massive UnitedHealth Group settlement is taken out of the equation, the average drops to about $44.1 million.