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LME faces new hedge fund lawsuits over cancelled nickel trades

LONDON/BENGALURU, March 6 (Reuters) – The London Metal Exchange (LME) faces two fresh lawsuits, filings showed, from ten hedge funds and asset managers after it enraged investors last year by cancelling nickel trades.

The world’s largest and oldest metals market annulled billions of dollars of nickel trades following chaotic price action and suspended trading for the first time since 1988.

Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (0388.HK), the LME’s owner, said in a statement on Monday that the new legal action was taken against the LME and its clearing house LME Clear.

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“The LME and LME Clear management are of the view that the claim is without merit,” HKEX said.

In one filing, AQR Capital Management and four other hedge funds had demanded 80 million pounds ($96 million) in damages,

The other was by Commodity Asset Management and four other parties, but no details were immediately available about the scope of damages they were seeking.

The nickel cancellations took place on March 8, 2022 and the new wave of legal filings was due to a one-year time limit approaching for claims that allege the LME violated the Human Rights Act, a source close to the situation told Reuters.

The Human Rights Act was a key element in an existing legal action by U.S. hedge fund Elliott Associates and Jane Street Global Trading, which are suing the LME for $456 million and $15.3 million respectively.

Elliott and Jane Street alleged the LME acted unlawfully, breached its published policies, was disproportionate, favoured some market participants over others and violated their rights under the European Convention of Human Rights to the “peaceful enjoyment” of possessions, court documents showed.

The LME denied the allegations and said it sought to act in the interest of the market as a whole.

In December, a High Court judge dismissed a case against the LME brought by AQR and others that demanded phone call transcripts and meeting notes about the exchange’s decision.

The new filing made on Friday by AQR and the others was under a different legal category, London court filings showed.

In addition to AQR, the other claimants are DRW Commodities, Flow Traders (FLOW.AS), Capstone Investment Advisors and Winton Capital Management Ltd.

Along with Commodity Asset Management, the other claimants in the other legal action were Pala Investments Ltd, Pentimon Ltd, Welton Investment Partners and Sunrise Capital Partners, the filing showed.

On Friday, a British financial watchdog launched its first ever investigation of a British exchange for possible misconduct over the LME’s decision to halt nickel trading.

($1 = 0.8333 pounds)

Reporting by Harish Sridharan in Bengaluru and Eric Onstad in London; Editing by Anil D’Silva and Alexander Smith

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