By Christian Berthelsen
Lawyers who won a $2.4 billion settlement agreement from Bank of America (BAC) on behalf of shareholders over the bank's merger with Merrill Lynch are seeking fees of $159 million, according to a court document filed late Friday.
Shareholders who owned Bank of America shares during the affected period are to receive an estimated average of 43 cents per share, the filing said. The payout amount is before deduction of attorneys fees and expenses awarded by the court, and assumes that valid claims for all damaged shares are submitted.
Nearly 2.1 billion shares were purchased and nearly 3.8 billion shares were held of record during the class period, which ran from Oct. 10, 2008 to January 12, 2009. However, investors will not be entitled to multiple recoveries. The settlement also provides recovery for investors who bought Bank of America January 2011 call options with certain strike prices.
Attorneys who litigated the case did so on a contingency basis since the inception of the case in 2009, and advanced several million dollars in expenses as the case moved forward. The payout they are seeking represents 6.56% of the settlement amount. In addition to the $159 million in fees, the lawyers are seeking repayment of $17.5 million in expenses. The fees and expenses sought by plaintiffs are equivalent to 3 cents per share in the settlement.
The firms that led the litigation are Kaplan Fox & Kilsheimer of New York, Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann of New York and Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check of Radnor, Penn.
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