Barclays Plc has been dragged into a bitter feud between two French insurers over its role in a failed hostile takeover bid.
SCOR SE is suing Barclays in London for breach of confidence when the bank advised Covéa on its bid to acquire SCOR in 2018. Barclays was given an inside track into the strategic thinking of SCOR’s board and then used the information to help Covea “sabotage” SCOR’s plans to merge with another firm, SCOR’s lawyers said.
Covéa’s bid for SCOR was one of France’s most acrimonious takeover attempts in years and the fallout has led to several lawsuits as well as criminal proceedings. SCOR is suing Covéa in France and has started criminal action against the company and its chief executive, Thierry Derez, who sat on SCOR’s board at the time of the bid.
The suit against Barclays is just “one battle in a much wider war between SCOR and Covéa,” Barclays lawyer Rosalind Phelps said at a London hearing Friday.
The trial is due to begin in June. SCOR is seeking an injunction to restrain use of confidential company information, as well as a declaration that Barclays acted in breach of confidence. Barclays is seeking to dismiss some of SCOR’s case before the trial starts.
Barclays declined to comment. SCOR declined to comment; Covéa didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
SCOR says Barclays was fed confidential information by Derez about its plan to merge with another reinsurer PartnerRe. Covéa, assisted by advisers including Barclays, then used this information to move fast and make a bid to acquire SCOR in order to “kill” the potential merger, SCOR’s lawyer Fred Hobson said in a filing.
The information Barclays obtained included the minutes of a SCOR board meeting.
“Barclays then forwarded on the minutes to other advisors of Covéa, noting that the email was ‘strictly confidential’,” said Hobson.
“How Barclays thought it was appropriate to receive, and then itself to forward on to advisors of a third company, the confidential minutes of SCOR’s internal board meeting is a matter of serious concern which will be explored at trial.”
–With assistance from Gaspard Sebag.
Photograph: The Barclays Plc office headquarters office building stands in the Canary Wharf business, financial and shopping district of London, on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. Photo credit: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg.
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