Amaranth's Suit Against JP Morgan: This Is Only The Start

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We noted in yesterday’s Opening Bell that Amaranth had filed a lawsuit against JP Morgan, claiming the bank undermined its efforts to stave off collapse. We’re late to the details of the lawsuit because we were overtaken by events yesterday but we’ve now had a chance to review the lawsuit.
Amaranth’s main claim is that JP Morgan interfered with Amaranth’s negotiations with Goldman Sachs and Citidel, forcing Amaranth to cut a more expensive deal with JP Morgan. According to Amaranth’s lawsuit, Goldman had agreed to take over its money-losing positions in the natural gas market for a $1.85 billion payment from Amaranth. But JP Morgan, which as acting as the hedge fund’s clearing broker, refused to execute the transaction and Goldman walked. The suit also claims that Citadel initially to assume the positions $1.85 billion but the JP Morgan executives talked Citadel out of it, according the lawsuit.
With nowhere else to turn, Amaranth ended up selling its positions to JP Morgan—which took them over in exchange for a $2.5 billion payment.
JP Morgan is denying any wrong doing, of course, and calls the lawsuit “baseless.” But there have long been questions about the many roles JP Morgan played in the collapse of Amaranth. At the very least, JP Morgan’s role as Amaranth’s broker gave it insider knowledge of Amaranth’s trading strategies—which may have allowed its traders better access to information than some of the outside bidders. In the months after Amaranth’s collapse, several top energy traders were left the bank under somewhat murky circumstances. And from what we know about lawsuits, this may well be just the start of things. Amaranth could use this lawsuit to start a discovery process that would include depositions of JP Morgan executives and review of internal documents in hopes of uncovering even broader wrong-doing.
Amaranth’s Dream-Team Law Firm: Beck, Webb & Boies [LawBlog]
Amaranth's lawsuit [Wall Street Journal]
Amaranth's letter to investors regarding the lawsuit [Wall Street Journal]
Amaranth Sues JPMorgan for Disrupting Transactions [Bloomberg]

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