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W.Va. investment board to sue Dutch company over losses

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- In an emergency meeting Tuesday, the West Virginia Investment Management Board authorized pursuing litigation against a company in the Netherlands to recover more than $925,000 in stock investment losses.

"The claim has to do with accounting irregularities, which our attorneys tell us is actionable," IMB Executive Director Craig Slaughter said of legal action against Royal Imtech.

The Amsterdam-based engineering and technical services company recently wrote off 370 million euros ($477 million) in losses, citing accounting irregularities in operations in Germany and Poland.

In February, developers of a 750 million euro ($968 million) amusement park, Adventure World Warsaw, severed ties with Imtech as the development's general contractor, causing the value of Imtech stock to drop nearly 50 percent.

Slaughter said issues surrounding Imtech and the theme park development are part of the grounds for a lawsuit.

Because Imtech is a foreign company, the IMB must actively pursue legal action, since there is no equivalent of a class-action lawsuit, Slaughter said.

"As a damaged investor in a class-action lawsuit, you are automatically considered part of the class unless you opt out," Slaughter said. "In a foreign jurisdiction, it's the opposite -- you are not included unless you opt in."

Regardless of the outcome of the lawsuit, any losses from Royal Imtech stock will not significantly affect state investments.

As of Dec. 31, 2012, the IMB held total fund assets in excess of $13.9 billion, with about $3.3 billion of that total invested in international equities. The board manages investments for all state pension plans -- which account for about $10 billion of the total assets -- as well as workers' compensation funds and various other funds.

Reach Phil Kabler at philk@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.


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