BP faces suit from NY fund

NEW York state’s pension fund plans to sue BP to recover losses from the drop in the company’s stock price following the worst oil spill in US history, state comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said yesterday.

DiNapoli, the sole trustee of the $132.6bn (£88.6bn) state pension fund, has hired law firm Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll to represent the fund. “BP misled investors about its safety procedures and its ability to respond to events like the ongoing oil spill and we’re going to hold it accountable,” said the Democratic comptroller, who will stand for election in November.

The fund has a history of acting as lead plaintiff in actions in which investors club together to launch claims against companies that can run into billions of dollars.

DiNapoli said the fund owns more than 19m shares in BP.

Dennis MacKee, spokesman for the $104bn Florida state pension system – one the largest in the United States – said: “We’re monitoring the lawsuit and all developments,” adding, “but we have not come to any decision.”

As of 11 June, the Florida pension system that covers nearly one million retirees and active workers had unrealized losses of about $65m on its BP investments and $21m of realized losses since the April 20 oil-rig disaster, according to MacKee.

The Illinois State Board of Investment, which manages public pension funds, has 1,066,132m shares of BP but “the totality of ISBI’s exposure to BP is through index accounts,” said spokesman William Atwood. “With the exception of statutory requirements...the Board’s practice has been not to issue directions to equity managers regarding specific securities,” he added.