Vestas seeks to settle US lawsuit

Vestas says it has reached a “conditional settlement” in a US class action lawsuit that will require it to make a $5m cash payment, and allows all claims against an individual company executive and defendant directors to be dismissed.

Vestas’ insurer will pay the entire proposed settlement, which is subject to approval by a US court and other conditions, the giant turbine vendor says in a statement released from its headquarters in Denmark.

Owners of Vestas American Depositary Receipts and ordinary shares filed the lawsuit against Vestas Wind Systems A/S, the company’s US subsidiary, the executive and certain directors.

Among the allegations raised by the plaintiffs was that Vestas’ share price had been inflated during a three-year period starting in February 2009 due to purported misstatements and omissions in relation to the company’s accounting for certain supply-and-installation contracts.

“Vestas expressly denies all allegations in the claims and is convinced that its disclosures to the public were appropriate at all times,” it says. “Vestas therefore does not concede any wrongdoing or liability in relation to the claims raised against it.”

“Nevertheless, Vestas believes that resolving the claims would be desirable in order to end the substantial expenses, burdens and uncertainties associated with a continued litigation in the USA,” it adds.

As part of the proposed deal, all claims against Vestas executives and officers would be dropped.

The settlement is subject to approval by a US Federal District Court and to other conditions specified in the settlement documents.

Vestas says a preliminary decision is expected later this year, with a hearing on final approval likely to be held by the end of 2014 or in the beginning of 2015.

Vestas entered the US market in 1981 and is one of "big three" wind turbine suppliers here along with General Electric and Siemens.