Lawsuit accuses IBM of hiding China risks amid NSA spy scandal

NEW YORK Fri Dec 13, 2013 7:43am IST

The IBM logo is seen outside the company's offices in Petah Tikva, near Tel Aviv October 24, 2011. REUTERS/Nir Elias/Files

The IBM logo is seen outside the company's offices in Petah Tikva, near Tel Aviv October 24, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Nir Elias/Files

Related Topics

Stocks

   

NEW YORK (Reuters) - IBM Corp(IBM.N) has been sued by a shareholder who accused it of concealing how its ties to what became a major U.S. spying scandal reduced business in China and ultimately caused its market value to plunge more than $12 billion.

IBM lobbied Congress hard to pass a law letting it share personal data of customers in China and elsewhere with the U.S. National Security Agency in a bid to protect its intellectual property rights, according to a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

The plaintiff in the complaint, Louisiana Sheriffs' Pension & Relief Fund, said this threatened IBM hardware sales in China, particularly given a program known as Prism that let the NSA spy on that country through technology companies such as IBM.

The Baton Rouge pension fund said the revelation of Prism and related disclosures by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden caused Chinese businesses and China's government to abruptly cut ties with the world's largest technology services provider.

It said this led IBM on October 16 to post disappointing third-quarter results, including drops in China of 22 percent in sales and 40 percent in hardware sales.

While quarterly profit rose 6 percent, revenue dropped 4 percent and fell well below analyst forecasts.

IBM shares fell 6.4 percent on October 17, wiping out $12.9 billion of the Armonk, New York-based company's market value.

The lawsuit names IBM, Chief Executive Virginia Rometty and Chief Financial Officer Mark Loughridge as defendants, and says they should be held liable for the company's failure to reveal sooner the risks of its lobbying and its NSA ties.

"These allegations are ludicrous and irresponsible and IBM will vigorously defend itself in court," IBM spokesman Doug Shelton said in an e-mail.

The Louisiana fund is represented by Bernstein, Litowitz, Berger & Grossmann, a prominent class-action specialist law firm. It seeks class-action status on behalf of shareholders from June 25 to October 16, 2013, and damages for shareholder losses.

Loughridge is retiring as CFO this month at age 60, which IBM calls its traditional retirement age. Martin Schroeter, who has been IBM's head of global finance, is replacing him.

The case is Louisiana Sheriffs' Pension & Relief Fund v. International Business Machines Corp et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 13-08818.

(Editing by Andrew Hay and Matt Driskill)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

HEARTBLEED BUG

REUTERS SHOWCASE

No-hire Trial

No-hire Trial

Tech workers seek to use Steve Jobs evidence in upcoming trial on no-hire accords  Full Article 

Apartheid-era Case

Apartheid-era Case

Ford, IBM to face renewed U.S. lawsuit over apartheid-era abuses  Full Article 

Online Banking

Online Banking

China issues banking rules to strengthen online payment security  Full Article 

Web Control

Web Control

China calls on Russia, central Asia allies to tighten Internet controls.  Full Article 

In Demand

In Demand

Microsoft's Xbox One sales cross 5 million.  Full Article 

Digital Currency

Digital Currency

Mt. Gox suitors seek support to save bitcoin exchange.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage