securities litigation against non-U.S. companies

I have been fortunate in recent years to be able to travel around the world and to speak to D&O insurance professionals in a wide variety of different countries. One recurring question I get in these meetings has to do with non-U.S. companies that have Level I American Depository Receipts (ADRs) trading in the U.S. The question is usually something along the lines of – “these Level 1 ADR companies don’t have U.S. securities litigation exposure, right?” This question always puzzles me, given the several high profile cases in recent years (discussed below) demonstrating that —  while there may be  an interesting question between sponsored and unsponsored ADRs — transactions in Level 1 ADRs certainly can be subject to the U.S. securities litigation.  
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One of the more interesting developments in the financial markets this year has been the number of so-called “unicorns” that have completed their IPOs. Among others, Uber, Lyft and Pinterest made their debut in recent weeks. Some of these companies have stumbled as they began trading, and indeed some have already been sued in securities class action lawsuits (as I noted here with respect to Lyft). Among the companies completing IPOs in recent weeks is Jumia Technologies AG, an African e-commerce platform that has been called Africa’s first unicorn, whose American Depositary Shares began trading on the NYSE on April 12, 2019. Even though Jumia’s securities have been trading barely a month, the company has been hit with a securities lawsuit, following a short-seller’s report about the company.
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For many years, U.S.-listed companies based outside the U.S. have enjoyed a relatively advantageous pricing environment for their D&O insurance. Because many D&O insurance underwriters based outside the U.S. used a different pricing model than their U.S. counterparts, pricing for these foreign filers was in many instances lower than the pricing available to equivalent U.S.-based companies. In recent months, however, as a result of surging claims frequency and loss costs, foreign filers’ D&O insurance costs have jumped significantly. These developments and the claims-related factors causing the changes are detailed in an interesting March 20, 2019 article by Jane Njavro of Woodruff Sawyer entitled “Why D&O Costs Are Soaring for Foreign Filers” (here). The article includes detailed statistical analysis of the relevant U.S. securities class action litigation trends.
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vwThe news that Volkswagen employed sophisticated software-based “defeat devices” in order to permit a number of its diesel-engine models to appear to meet U.S. emissions standards has dominated the headlines in the business pages over the last few days. The news has already led to the resignation of its embattled CEO, Martin Winterkorn. In addition to regulatory enforcement proceedings, the company faces possible criminal action as well as a host of consumer lawsuits. In addition, on September 25, 2015, plaintiff’s lawyers filed a securities class lawsuit in the Eastern District of Virginia against VW, its U.S. operating divisions, and certain of its directors and officers, on behalf of investors who purchased VW’s American Depositary Receipts (ADRs) in the United States.  As discussed below, there are a number of interesting features to this new securities lawsuit. In addition, as also discussed below, a Dutch investors’ association has separately initiated an effort under Dutch collective action statutory provisions to pursue claims against VW, as well. 
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tescoAfter U.K.-based Tesco PLC’s announcements of accounting “irregularities” and the subsequent departure of the company’s Board chair, investor lawsuits soon followed. But as discussed here, these lawsuits were filed in the United States, on behalf of investors who had purchased American Depositary Receipts in the United States. In light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s

blumarbleAn ever-present anxiety for globally-active non-U.S. companies is the possibility that they might find themselves having to deal with litigation in U.S. courts. This concern is warranted because certain attributes of the U.S. legal system – including the absence of loser pays attorneys’ fee model and the availability of discovery and jury trials – provide

The volume of securities litigation against non-U.S. companies has ‘reached record levels” despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Morrison v. National Australia Bank, according to a recent report from NERA Economic Consulting. The report, written by Robert Patton of NERA, and entitled “Recent Trends in U.S. Securities Class Actions Against Non-U.S.