Feb. 7. 2003
Marubeni Corporation?has announced today that a settlement has been reached with the plaintiffs' counsels in the Bristol Bay antitrust suit brought by the representatives of fishers in the Bay. This settlement is subject to the final approval of the Superior Court For the State of Alaska, Third Judicial District at Anchorage.
1. Settlement Amount:
Marubeni Group defendants will pay US$25 million to the Plaintiffs.
2. Initiation of the Suit and the Circumstances through the Settlement:
(1) In 1995, eight (8) fishers commenced actions, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, against Marubeni Corporation, its US subsidiary North Pacific Processors, Inc., several local marine food processors, and other entities alleging that the defendants committed a conspiracy to suppress the purchase prices of Bristol Bay salmon during the period from 1989 through 1995. In 1997 the court granted the class action certification, when the plaintiffs composed of 3,000 fishers and the damages sought amounted to US$975 million (trebling the alleged damages of US$325 million pursuant to the state antitrust law) plus prejudgment interest and legal fees.
(2) From the inception of the proceeding, the Marubeni Group defendants unequivocally denied committing any wrongdoing alleged by the plaintiffs and vigorously defended the case. On July 2, 1999, the Superior Court granted summary judgment in favor of defendants, holding that the plaintiffs had failed to present evidence sufficient to raise a genuine issue of fact as to whether a conspiracy existed.
(3) Upon plaintiffs' appeal, on May 31, 2002 the Supreme Court of Alaska reversed the summary judgment and remanded to the Superior Court for further proceedings.
(4) Thereafter, the Marubeni Group defendants have been searching for the settlement, and have finally reached an agreement.
3. Marubeni Group defendants' thoughts about this lawsuit:
Settlement Agreement is not an admission or suggestion that the Marubeni Group defendants have committed any wrongdoing and the Marubeni Group defendants have denied and continues to deny any wrongdoing or liability alleged by plaintiff in the action; the Marubeni Group defendants could have decided to continue to litigate in the jury trial starting from the early February this year. However, considering the uncertainty that jury trials may involve and the size of verdict that plaintiffs are seeking, and based upon the advice from our attorneys in charge, the Marubeni Group defendants have concluded that the settlement serves its best interest.
4. Effect on the Financial Prospects of Marubeni Corporation:
Marubeni Corporation does not revise the financial prospects for the fiscal year ending March 2003.