According to the Company’s FORM 10-Q for the quarterly period ended June 30, 2006, in July 2003, a Special Litigation Committee of the Equinix Board of Directors approved a settlement agreement and related agreements which set forth the terms of a settlement between the Company, the Individual Defendants, the plaintiff class and the vast majority of the other approximately 300 issuer defendants and the individual defendants currently or formerly associated with those companies. Among other provisions, the settlement provides for a release of the Company and the Individual Defendants and the Company’s agreeing to assign away, not assert, or release certain potential claims the Company may have against its underwriters. The settlement agreement also provides a guaranteed recovery of $1 billion to plaintiffs for the cases relating to all of the approximately 300 issuers. To the extent that the underwriter defendants settle all of the cases for at least $1 billion, no payment will be required under the issuers’ settlement agreement. To the extent that the underwriter defendants settle for less than $1 billion, the issuers are required to make up the difference. On April 20, 2006, JPMorgan Chase and the plaintiffs reached a preliminary agreement for a settlement for $425 million. The Court has not yet approved the JPMorgan Chase settlement. However, if it is finally approved, then the maximum amount that the issuers’ insurers will be potentially liable for is $575 million. It is anticipated that any potential financial obligation of Equinix to plaintiffs pursuant to the settlement, of which such claims are currently expected to be less than $3.4 million, will be covered by existing insurance and the Company does not expect that the settlement will involve any payment by the Company. However, if the JPMorgan Chase settlement is finally approved, the Company’s maximum financial obligation to the plaintiffs pursuant to the settlement agreement would be less than $2 million. The Company has no information as to whether there are any material limitations on the expected recovery by other issuer defendants of any potential financial obligation to plaintiffs from their own insurance carriers. On February 15, 2005, the court granted preliminary approval of the settlement agreement, subject to certain modifications consistent with its opinion. Those modifications have been made. On March 20, 2006, the Underwriter Defendants submitted objections to the settlement to the Court. The Court held a hearing regarding these and other objections to the settlement at a fairness hearing on April 24, 2006, but has not yet issued a ruling. There is no assurance that the court will grant final approval to the settlement.
As summarized by the same SEC filing, in July 30, 2001 and August 8, 2001, putative shareholder class action lawsuits were filed against the Company, certain of its officers and directors (the “Individual Defendants”), and several investment banks that were underwriters of the Company’s IPO. The cases were filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, purportedly on behalf of investors who purchased the Company’s stock between August 10, 2000 and December 6, 2000. In addition, similar lawsuits were filed against approximately 300 other issuers and related parties. The purported class action alleges violations of Sections 11 and 15 of the Securities Act of 1933 and Sections 10(b), Rule 10b-5 and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 against the Company and Individual Defendants. The plaintiffs have since dismissed the Individual Defendants without prejudice. The suits allege that the underwriter defendants agreed to allocate stock in the Company’s IPO to certain investors in exchange for excessive and undisclosed commissions and agreements by those investors to make additional purchases in the aftermarket at pre-determined prices. The plaintiffs allege that the prospectus for the Company’s IPO was false and misleading and in violation of the securities laws because it did not disclose these arrangements. The action seeks damages in an unspecified amount. On February 19, 2003, the Court dismissed the Section 10(b) claim against the Company, but denied the motion to dismiss the Section 11 claim.
The complaint alleges that defendants violated the federal securities laws by issuing and selling Equinix common stock pursuant to the August 10, 2000 IPO without disclosing to investors that some of the underwriters in the offering, including the lead underwriters, had solicited and received excessive and undisclosed commissions from certain investors. The complaint alleges that, in exchange for the excessive commissions, members of the underwriting group allocated Equinix shares to customers at the IPO price of $12 per share. Rather than allowing their customers to keep their profits from the IPO, the complaint alleges, the underwriters required their customers to "kick back" some of their profits in the form of secret commissions. These secret commission payments were sometimes calculated after the fact based on how much profit each investor had made from his or her IPO stock allocation. The complaint further alleges that defendants violated the Securities Act of 1933 because the Prospectus distributed to investors and the Registration Statement filed with the SEC in order to gain regulatory approval for the Equinix offering contained material misstatements regarding the commissions that
the underwriters would derive from the IPO transaction and failed to disclose
the additional commissions and "laddering" scheme discussed above.