May 9, 2018 / 11:41 PM / 2 months ago

Australia's AMP to 'vigorously defend' class action lawsuits

(Adds details from AMP’s response to class action lawsuits)

May 10 (Reuters) - Top Australian wealth manager AMP Ltd said it will defend two class action lawsuits filed against it following damaging revelations from a government-ordered inquiry into the country’s financial industry.

AMP confirmed that lawsuits have been filed by global law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan and Melbourne-based firm Phi Finney McDonald on behalf of some shareholders.

“AMP intends to vigorously defend the proceedings,” the company said in a statement ahead of its annual general meeting later on Thursday, where angry shareholders are expected to challenge board re-appointments and executive pay.

Three directors quit AMP on Tuesday following the departure of the company’s chairman, chief executive and in-house lawyer, after revelations at the inquiry that the once-venerable firm had lied to regulators, allegedly doctored an independent report, and charged customers fees for no service.

Quinn Emanuel said on Wednesday it had filed a class action on behalf of shareholders who have seen AMP’s market capitalisation plunge by around A$2 billion ($1.5 billion) following admissions made by AMP executives during the inquiry.

“The class action alleges that, amongst other things, AMP breached its continuous disclosure obligations and made misleading statements, causing shareholders significant loss,” the firm said in a statement.

Last month, Australian litigation financier IMF Bentham had said it would fund class action proceedings against AMP that would be conducted by Phi Finney McDonald.

Shares in AMP closed at A$4.08 on Wednesday, giving the firm a market value of A$11.91 billion.

($1 = 1.3434 Australian dollars)

Reporting by Rushil Dutta; editing by Richard Pullin and Stephen Coates

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