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Looks Like a Loss for Credit Susse in Auction-Rate Securities Cases

Last month, a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) arbitration panel awarded $9.8 million to Catalyst Health Solutions in its auction-rate securities case against Credit Suisse Securities, meaning that more institutional investors are coming out on top in their cases involving auction-rate securities.

Catalyst Heath Solutions, which manages prescription drug benefits, is just one of many institutional investors to take legal action against Credit Suisse after the ARS market came to an abrupt standstill in February 2008. Following the market’s collapse, institutional and retail investors alike were left financially hammered, unable to liquidate their supposedly liquid investments.

Ultimately, regulatory settlements were reached with a number of broker/dealers that marketed and sold auction-rate securities to investors. Most of the agreements, however, benefited retail ARS holders, not institutional investors.

In 2009, another institutional investor, STMicroelectronics NV, also successfully won its case against Credit Suisse when a FINRA arbitration panel ordered the brokerage to pay STMicroelectronics NV more than $406 million to settle claims that it misled the semiconductor maker into buying auction-rate securities.

On May 27, 2010, FINRA again ruled in favor of an investor’s arbitration claim against Credit Suisse. This time, the panel found Credit Suisse liable to Luby’s Inc. Specifically, FINRA ordered Credit Suisse to buy back the auction-rate securities at par and to pay interest on them at the par purchase price of 6% per annum from and including May 29, 2010, through and including the date the award is paid in full. According to Luby’s Feb. 10, 2010, quarterly filing, the company held $7.1 million par value or $5.2 million fair value in auction-rate securities.