The LPF Group-backed class action against collapsed insurance company CBL Corp and its directors now has nearly 50 per cent of eligible shareholders signed up to its suit.
Harbour Asset Management managing director Andrew Bascand, who chairs the shareholder group, said investors owning about 60 million CBL shares have now signed up.
In addition to Harbour and Australia-based Argo Investments, which together own more than 27 million shares, "a large number of other eligible shareholders have joined our action to try and get some of their losses back," Bascand said in a statement.
The near 50 per cent estimate "has been calculated on the basis of the eligible shareholdings held in CBL when it collapsed in 2018, a number we estimate to be around 125 million shares," he said.
According to Companies Office filings, CBL had 235.8 million shares on issue – that includes the directors' and other insiders' holdings.
"Shareholders who have signed up come from around the globe and are both institutional investors and out of pocket mum and dad shareholders who want the opportunity to recover the money they lost as a result of the company's collapse," Bascand said.
"We believe legal action is the only way for investors in CBL to get some money back."
The LPF-backed action filed its statement of claim in the Wellington on October 31 while last week a rival suit fronted by Auckland-based law firm Glaister Ennor, and backed by Australian litigation funder IMF Bentham, said it had applied to the High Court in Auckland for leave to start a class action against CBL.
Glaister Ennor announced its suit first in mid-October but wouldn't say then which shareholders it had signed up. It has since refused to say who engaged it, saying that information was "privileged."
Last week, the law firm named its lead plaintiff - Basil Ian Livingstone - and said he represents shareholders who have aggregate purchases of more than 33 million CBL shares.
LPF director Phil Newland has questioned the meaning of "aggregate purchases" and whether that means Glaister Ennor has the holders of about 14 per cent of CBL shares signed up as the statement implies.
The last comprehensive list of CBL shareholders filed with the Companies Office shows Livingstone and Ryan Joseph Harvie, both of Hamilton, jointly owned 63,192 shares in March 2017.
Neither Glaister Ennor nor IMF have responded to a request to clarify what percentage of CBL shareholders their suit represents but the law firm said last week that Livingstone isn't a related party to any of CBL's directors.
Directors, former directors, and their relatives or related entities are banned from joining the IMF-backed action, Glaister Ennor said.
The major difference between the rival suits is that the LPF one is pursuing both the company and CBL's directors while the IMF one is pursuing the company alone.
BusinessDesk has asked former CBL managing director Peter Harris whether he or any of the other former directors have anything to do with the IMF-backed suit.
Nearly a week after BusinessDesk began asking, Harris answered a different question: "I am not a member of either one of the shareholder class actions."
CBL went into liquidation in May this year. Its shares last traded at $3.17 on NZX before they were suspended in February 2018, valuing the company at $747.4 million.