[JURIST] Merrill Lynch [corporate website] said Friday it will pay $164 million to settle 23 class action lawsuits involving Merrill Lynch's research of internet companies in the 1990s. Merrill Lynch filed a report with the US Securities and Exchange Commission [official website] on Friday, informing them of the settlement plan and stating that the courts must still approve it. As a result of the settlement, plaintiffs in 11 of the 23 cases dropped appeals from previous cases where motions to dismiss were granted. Merrill Lynch will amend its fourth-quarter results to include the cost of the settlement, thereby reducing fourth-quarter earnings by 10 cents per share and full-year 2005 earnings by 11 cents per share.
Two lawsuits were originally dismissed [internet.com report] in 2003 because the court did not want to condone speculative investors who hoped to re-coup their losses from the volatile dot-com era. The US Second Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the lawsuits [JURIST report] in 2005 and Merrill Lynch still plans to defend those suits vigorously. CBC News has more.