NSW Registry, Federal Court of Australia (NSD362/2004).
The company did not inform the market that it was unlikely to achieve its 2002 profit forecast. In February 2003 when the true state of Aristocrat’s business was announced, it’s share price dramatically plunged from $4.45 to $1.82.
The class action alleged that shareholders who purchased shares in the relevant period suffered losses by purchasing shares at inflated prices because the market was not properly informed of Aristocrat’s true financial performance.
The Aristocrat Class Action trial ran for four weeks in October 2007. In the course of the trial the Applicant sought to prove its case with approximately 900 documents culled from approximately 110,000 documents of discovered and subpoenaed materials. The Applicant and three expert witnesses gave evidence in support of the case. These experts were a forensic accountant concerning the breaches of standards and the true state of Aristocrat’s business, an investment manager concerning the materiality of the information not disclosed and an economist to quantify the inflation paid by shareholders.
Whilst awaiting the judgment, in May 2008 Aristocrat and the Applicant reached a conditional settlement. The Federal Court ordered that a notice be sent to approximately 19,000 shareholders who purchased shares in the relevant period at the addresses recorded on Aristocrat’s share register. This Notice advised shareholders of the conditional settlement and noted they had until 24 June 2008 to:
- indicate that they intended to participate in the settlement; and
- provide their relevant share trading information.
Following a process of investigation and verification of claims a final settlement of $144.5 million was reached which was approved by the Federal Court on 28 August 2008.
1. Discovery (20 May 2004).
2. Discovery (25 August 2004).
3. Declassing (13 May 2005).
4. Abuse of Process (20 October 2005).
5. Subpoena (Auditor) (31 March 2006).
6. Video Evidence (20 September 2007).
7. Settlement Participation (26 August 2008).
8. Settlement Approval (21 January 2009).