Anschutz Corp. v. Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc., No. 11-1305 (2d Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
Auction Rate Securities are variable-rate equity or debt instruments that pay interest or dividends at rates set by periodic auctions. ARS were used as an alternative financing vehicle and were promoted as a safe, liquid alternative to money market funds. Merrill Lynch placed support bids at the auctions. In 2006, the SEC ordered investment banks, including Merrill Lynch, to cease intervention in the ARS market in the absence of adequate disclosures and found violations of 15 U.S.C. 77q(a)(2). In 2007 Merrill Lynch discontinued placing support bids and auctions for ARS failed. Anschutz holds $18.95 million of “illiquid and severely impaired securities.” Anschutz claimed that because of the support bids, it earned less interest on its ARS that it otherwise would have earned; that it relied on the appearance of ARS liquidity manufactured by Merrill Lynch, and on previous success with similar ARS, in deciding to make purchases; and that credit agencies committed fraud in rating ARS at issue. The district court dismissed, holding that disclosures on the Merrill Lynch website, in conjunction with the SEC Order, were sufficient to apprise Anschutz of ARS support bidding practices and that Anschutz failed to allege any actionable misstatements by the rating agencies. The Second Circuit affirmed.
The court issued a subsequent related opinion or order on August 16, 2012.