Hands Loses Suit Against Citi

After a three week trial, the jury took only five hours (just enough time to get fed) to decide against Terr Firma, a private equity firm, and in favor of Citigroup, his investment banker.  I was a show trial that featured two of the country’s best business trial lawyers and an old fashioned claim — fraud.  Terra Firma claimed that Citi defrauded him when its investment banking head, David Wormsley, told Hand, the head of the fund, that Terra Firma had to bid high for a target, EMI. to avoid a competitive bid from Cerberus.  Terra Firma acquired EMI in 2007 only to book huge losses when the international credit crisis hit a year later.    Citi denied the charge and prevailed at trial.  The case put much to light: 1) Citi’s ties to both clients and 2) the huge role reputation plays in the industry.  When the EMI deal stalled, both the investment branch at Citi and Hand believed that their firm reputations were at stake were they not to close.  Once Hand closed and lost his shirt, his personal reputation took a back seat to getting out of a crushingly bad deal.  All agree that Terra Firma, suing its own investment bank, had blotted its copy book for financing in future deals.  We shall see if the conventional wisdom is correct when a new Hand deal opportunity emerges and there is money on the table.

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