Credit Agricole wins end to Intesa lawsuit on toxic CDO

NEW YORK Wed Feb 13, 2013 7:50pm EST

Passers-by walk in front of a branch of French bank Credit Agricole in Marseille February 1, 2013. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier

Passers-by walk in front of a branch of French bank Credit Agricole in Marseille February 1, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Jean-Paul Pelissier

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. judge threw out Intesa Sanpaolo SpA's (ISP.MI) lawsuit accusing France's Credit Agricole SA (CAGR.PA) of causing $180 million of losses by selling it risky mortgage debt that was designed to fail, saying the Italian bank waited one month too long to bring its case.

U.S. District Judge Robert Sweet said Intesa had "no chance of success whatsoever" to recover its entire $180 million investment in a collateralized debt obligation known as Pyxis ABS CDO 2006-1, because it did not sue until after the five-year statute of limitations expired.

The complaint alleged that a Credit Agricole unit then known as Calyon had marketed Pyxis to unsuspecting investors as an investment based on residential mortgage-backed securities chosen in good faith by the independent Putnam Advisory Co.

Instead, Intesa said, Calyon concealed that it was hedge fund firm Magnetar Capital LLC that had chosen, and then bet against, the underlying securities.

Intesa did not sue until April 6, 2012, but claimed it beat the five-year deadline by having participated in an April 24, 2007 credit default swap related to Pyxis.

But Sweet said the latest relevant violation was the last date of an alleged misrepresentation or omission. He said this date was March 6, 2007, when Calyon sent Intesa an alleged fraudulent valuation for Pyxis.

Lawyers for Intesa, Credit Agricole, Putnam and Magnetar did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Sweet said Turin-based Intesa could file an amended complaint within 20 days.

Magnetar was also implicated in a similar scheme involving another CDO, Squared CDO 2007-1, that resulted in JPMorgan Chase & Co's (JPM.N) agreement in 2011 to pay $153.6 million to resolve U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission fraud charges.

Intesa's lawsuit is one of thousands filed in U.S. courts seeking to recover losses on mortgage-backed securities that ultimately proved toxic. These securities were a key cause of the 2008 global financial crisis.

The case is Intesa Sanpaolo SpA v. Credit Agricole Corporate and Investment bank et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 12-02683.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)


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