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Hedge fund AQR in joint legal action against LME

·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor of the London Metal Exchange, in London

By Eric Onstad and Nell Mackenzie

LONDON (Reuters) -Hedge fund AQR Capital Management and four other parties have filed a legal action against the London Metal Exchange (LME), court filings showed, after the exchange halted nickel trading and cancelled deals in March.

The LME is already facing legal action from U.S. hedge fund Elliott Associates and Jane Street Global Trading, which are suing for $456 million and $15.3 million respectively for the cancelled nickel trades.

The other claimants in the new filing at the London Commercial Court are Winton Capital Management, Capstone Investment Advisors, Flow Traders and DRW Commodities.

Court documents were not available publicly.

AQR Capital Management, Flow Traders and Winton Capital Management said in a joint statement that the group had filed an application to the court demanding LME disclose documents that would enable the group to assess its legal position.

"The application follows the suspension of the nickel market and the unilateral decision to cancel certain nickel trades on 8 March 2022, which caused significant losses for many market participants," the companies said.

Their joint statement also said the documents should be disclosed because of “the circumstances surrounding the suspension" as well as the unprecedented decision to cancel agreed trades and the LME’s "piecemeal disclosures" regarding its actions.

Capstone Investment Advisors said, "Until the application has been heard by a judge it would not be appropriate to comment further."

DRW Commodities did not respond to requests for comment.

An LME statement said that it had received papers "issued solely for the purpose of seeking pre-action disclosure".

"We consider that application to be without merit and we look forward to setting out our arguments opposing the application in due course," it said.

The LME cancelled trades worth billion of dollars in March after prices doubled to more than $100,000 a tonne in a surge that sources blamed on short-covering by one of the world's top producers.

Benchmark nickel prices spiked to a record peak on March 8 on expectations that China's Tsingshan Holding Group and others would have to buy back their short positions, which are bets on prices falling.

British financial regulators launched a sweeping investigation in April of the suspension to nickel trading. The LME also commissioned its own independent review of the matter.

(Reporting by Eric Onstad and Nell MackenzieEditing by David Goodman, Editing by Louise Heavens)