According to the Company’s FORM 10-Q for the quarterly period ended June 30, 2006, the Company has 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. Among other provisions, the settlement provides for a release of the Company and the Individual Defendants for the conduct alleged in the action to be wrongful. The Company would agree to undertake certain responsibilities, including 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 JPMorgan Chase settlement has not yet been approved by the Court. However, if it is finally approved, then the maximum amount that the issuers’ insurers will be potentially liable for is $575 million. 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 it has not yet issued a ruling.
As summarized by the same SEC filing, six putative shareholder class action lawsuits were filed against the Company, certain of its current and former officers and directors (the “Individual Defendants”), and several investment banks that were the underwriters of the Company's initial public offering. The lawsuits were filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. On December 5, 2001, an amended complaint was filed in one of the actions, in connection with the Company's November 23, 1998 initial public offering and its May 19, 1999 secondary offering. A Consolidated Amended Complaint, which is now the operative complaint, was filed in the Southern District of New York on April 19, 2002. The action seeks damages in an unspecified amount. On February 19, 2003, a motion to dismiss all claims against the Company was denied by the Court. On October 13, 2004, the Court certified a class in six of the approximately 300 other nearly identical actions and noted that the decision is intended to provide strong guidance to all parties regarding class certification in the remaining cases. The Underwriter Defendants sought leave to appeal the class certification decision and the Second Circuit has accepted the appeal. Plaintiffs have not yet moved to certify a class in theglobe.com case.
The complaint alleges violations of Sections 11, 12(a)(2) and 15 of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder. On or about November 12, 1998, TheGlobe.com commenced an initial public offering of 3,100,000 of its shares of
its common stock at an offering price of $9 per share (the "TheGlobe.com IPO"). In connection therewith, TheGlobe.com filed a registration statement, which incorporated a prospectus (the "Prospectus"), with the SEC. The complaint further alleges that the Prospectus was materially false and misleading because it failed to disclose, among other things, that: (i) Bear Stearns had solicited and received excessive and undisclosed commissions from certain investors in exchange for which Bear Stearns allocated to those investors material portions of the restricted number of TheGlobe.com shares issued in connection with the TheGlobe.com IPO; and (ii) Bear Stearns had entered into agreements with customers whereby it agreed to allocate TheGlobe.com shares to those customers in the TheGlobe.com IPO in exchange for which the customers agreed to purchase additional TheGlobe.com shares in the aftermarket at pre-determined prices.