On September 5, 2007, the Court issued the Opinion and Order No. 95140. According to the Order, U.S. District Judge John F. Keenan certified the class action, approved the settlement, approved the Plan of Allocation and finalized the award of attorneys’ fees and expenses. On September 19, 2007, the Court entered the Order and Final Judgment for In re Merrill Lynch Research Reports Securities Litigation, 02 MDL 1484.
According to the Notice of Pendency and Proposed Settlement of Class Actions, dated March 19, 2007, for In re Merrill Lynch Research Reports Securities Litigation, 02 MDL 1484, this case, In re Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc. Internet HOLDRs Securities Litigation, 02-CV-5961, is part of a proposed settlement of $125 million in cash. A settlement hearing will be held before the Honorable John F. Keenan, United States District Judge of the Southern District of New York to determine whether the settlement should be approved.
On December 23, 2002, the Court entered the Case Management Order #1. According to the Order, the actions filed on behalf of purchasers of depositary receipts of Internet HOLDRs/SM Trust were consolidated out under In re Merrill Lynch Co., Inc. Internet HOLDRs Securities Litigation, 02-CV-5961(MP). On June 2, 2006, the Court entered the Minute Order signed by Judge Michael B. Mukasey administratively closing the case pursuant to Memorandum from the Administrative Office of the United States Courts dated June 15th, 1973.
In October 2002, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation granted the Merrill Lynch Defendants’ motion to transfer all such cases to the Southern District of New York for coordinated pre-trial proceedings. The cases were transferred to the Honorable Milton Pollack, Senior United States District Judge, and were coordinated under the caption In re Merrill Lynch Research Reports Securities Litigation, 02 MDL 1484.
The complaint asserts claims under sections 11, 12(a)(2), and 15 of the Securities Act of 1933. The complaint alleges, among other things, that during the Class Period defendants issued false and misleading statements, and omissions of material fact, in the Registration Statement and Prospectus issued in connection with the initial public offering of the Internet HOLDRS. The Internet HOLDRs are "basket securities, " and each Internet HOLDRs share represents an undivided beneficial ownership in (initially) 20 specified companies in the Internet sector (the "Underlying Securities"). Thus, the price of the Internet HOLDRs was directly related to and moved with the price of the Underlying Securities.
The complaint alleges that Merrill Lynch artificially inflated the stock prices of Internet companies covered by Merrill Lynch, which included many of the Internet HOLDRs' Underlying Securities, by having its Internet Group analysts prepare and issue false and misleading reports, and which did not set forth the true opinions held by those analysts. Merrill Lynch is alleged to have engaged in this scheme as part of a larger pattern whereby Merrill Lynch Internet Group analysts, often under pressure from the company's investment bankers, were initiating, continuing and/or manipulating research coverage to maintain and attract investment banking business. The complaint's allegations are based, in part, on information from the investigation of Merrill Lynch and its Internet Group conducted by the New York State Attorney General.