AWB settles class action case for $39.5m

Rebecca Urban; 16/2/10

Grains exporter AWB has settled a potential $100 million-plus class action brought by investors who claimed to be kept in the dark over secret payments to Iraqi companies, marking an end to the company’s legal battles in Australia. Less than a week into a four-week hearing in the Federal Court in Sydney, AWB has announced it has settled the long-running case for $39.5m, including the applicants’ legal costs. The settlement, which is still subject to the court’s approval, is not expected to involve an admission of liability. Describing the deal as “commercially acceptable”, AWB chairman Peter Polson said it was in the best interests of the company’s shareholders. “The company is pleased to put this matter behind it as this is the final legal matter directed against the company in Australia arising out of activities under the United Nations Oil-for-Food Program,” Mr Polson said in a statement.