Goldman Sachs Asset Management (:GSAM), a wing of The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (GS), has been sued by a Netherlands-based pension fund – Pensioenfonds Vervoer – for alleged mismanagement of funds. The Dutch fund has filed two claims in London’s High Court, amounting to €240 million ($300 million).
According to the Pensioenfonds, in its capacity as the fiduciary manager, GSAM indulged in several inapt investments during the peak of the 2008 economic crisis. Due to this, the pension fund had to bear huge losses.
The first claim by Pensioenfonds relates to investments made in the perilous sub-prime debt and the second one accuses Goldman of taking a long time to give a green signal for investing in global high-yield bonds. The fiduciary manager’s actions led to the deletion of millions of euros from Pensioenfonds’ portfolios.
Consequently, Goldman was dismissed in 2010 and Northern Trust Corporation (NTRS) started managing the fund’s investment strategies in the interim period. Finally in 2011, Rotterdam-based asset management firm – Robeco – was hired to fill the void left by the dismissal of Goldman.
Pensioenfonds has been struggling to cope up with the after-effects of the financial downturn as it cleaned up billions of euros from its capital. Pensioenfonds Vervoer is finding it difficult to meet the liquidity requirements of the Dutch central bank in the backdrop of persistent low-interest environment and volatile equity markets.
As per the Dutch central bank, all the banks are required to maintain 100% solvency level and the minimum funding requirement of 105%. Currently, the liquidity requirements at Pensioenfonds are lingering below the 100% mark. The near-term outlook remains cautious owing to the daunting macroeconomic issues. However, the Dutch government’s permission to allow the usage of higher interest rates for long-term calculations has been effective in delaying benefit cuts.
The Dutch crisis for Goldman is far from over. A number of pension funds across the Netherlands, which suffered due to the poor performance of the GSAM, have resorted to litigation.
Earlier this year, Goldman was dragged into court by the ABP pension fund. The fund claimed that GSAM had provided it with misleading statements regarding the risks involved in the mortgage bonds, causing it to bear a sizeable loss during 2008.
Dubious practices have maligned Goldman’s reputation, and litigation costs are bound to hurt its financials in the long run. Though Goldman claims its diligence in executing responsibilities on behalf of its customers, the circumstances reflect a different story.
Currently, Goldman retains its Zacks #3 Rank, which translates into a short-term Hold rating. Considering the fundamentals, we also maintain our long-term Neutral recommendation on the stock.
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