In re Royal Ahold N.V. Securities ERISA Litigation (D. Md.)

Increasingly, securities litigation involves claims arising out of fraud and other misconduct that is international in scope.  Following massive revenue and earnings restatements which ultimately exceeded $24 billion, the Firm instituted class action litigation against Dutch retailing conglomerate Royal Ahold N.V. on behalf of a global class of equity investors alleging federal securities law claims.  Ahold had engaged in a worldwide acquisition program that focused upon the United States market, but also included joint ventures and smaller acquisitions in Europe and South Africa.

Ahold publicly touted the fact that it would become the dominant food service provider and grocer in the United States, and Ahold’s Maryland based U.S. Food service division (“USF”) was an integral and material element of Ahold’s dramatic growth.  In a shocking announcement on February 24, 2003, Ahold stated that it would be required to restate revenues primarily related to its USF operations by $500 million, which prompted immediate civil and criminal investigations in the United States and abroad and, causing devastating losses to investors as the price of Ahold common stock trading on foreign and domestic securities exchanges plummeted.

After three years of intense litigation which included proceedings in the Netherlands, E&C secured a $1.1 billion settlement – the largest class action recovery ever secured from a European issuer. Hundreds of thousands of shareholders from more than 100 countries participated in this recovery.