Battle: David Harding with wife Claudia
Billionaire philanthropist David Harding has entered into a legal battle against one of the oldest London stock exchanges.
Harding’s Winton Capital Management teamed up with other hedge funds after the London Metal Exchange (LME) suspended trading in nickel worth billions of pounds in March.
The fiasco, the result of tightening sanctions against Russia after its invasion of Ukraine, has angered Europe’s last open trading floor. The controversial cancellations come after prices jumped more than 50 percent in a matter of hours.
This caused many traders to miss out on lucrative profits, but potentially saved China’s largest steel company, Tsingshan Holding Group, which found itself on the losing side due to a significant short position.
The scandal has sparked nearly £400 million in lawsuits from Elliott Management and trading firm Jane Street, which are seeking judicial review of the legality of the LME’s actions.
US firms AQR Capital Management and Capstone Investment Advisors were named in a separate lawsuit with Harding, a physicist-turned-financier who is almost as famous for giving away money as he is for making it. He donated £100 million to his alma mater, the University of Cambridge.
He founded Winton in 1997. The court documents showed the gravity of the demands placed on the LME, which was accused of covering up private conversations about its controversial suspension.
Questions are also being asked about the role of JP Morgan.
City sources describe her as the “top dealer-broker” in the trades, but a source close to JP Morgan said she has no say in the LME’s decision-making.
An upcoming High Court hearing will determine whether the historical exchange should be passed on.
AQR stated: ‘Given the circumstances surrounding the suspension, the unprecedented decision to cancel agreed-upon transactions in these circumstances, and the LME’s partial disclosure of their actions, applicants are requesting disclosure of certain documents from the LME so they can assess their legal position.’
An LME spokesman said: “We consider this application unfounded and we look forward to presenting our arguments against the application in due course.”
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