HK investors in "mini-bond" scandal accept deal

AP News
Posted: May 20, 2011 7:50 AM
HK investors in "mini-bond" scandal accept deal

Thousands of Hong Kong investors who faced big losses from financial products tied to collapsed investment bank Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. have voted to accept a deal to get some of their money back.

Officials from accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers who have been overseeing the process of salvaging money for the buyers of the products, said investors voted in favor of the agreement during three days of meetings that ended Friday.

Sixteen banks who sold the products said in March that they would buy back the so-called "mini-bonds" from investors for up to 96.5 percent of their value _ an improvement on about 60 percent in a 2009 agreement.

"Mini-bonds" and other financial products were sold to more than 40,000 investors, including retirees who invested their life savings. The value of the products, estimated by the government at $2.6 billion, plummeted after Lehman collapsed.

Lehman became the largest corporate collapse in U.S. history when it filed for bankruptcy protection in September 2008 and listed $613 billion in debt.

In Hong Kong, which is an important Asian financial center, the losses provoked widespread anger, street protests, government probes and a push for tougher regulations.

Some investor groups urged people to reject the deal after it was announced in March, but voting results showed near-unanimous acceptance.

PricewaterhouseCoopers said the vote showed that most people preferred to get "significant and substantial recoveries" rather than face more costly litigation.

Investors will receive different amounts, with everyone receiving at least 70 percent of their money back and two-thirds getting at least 80 percent. Four percent of investors are to get more than 90 percent back.

Payments will start in June.