* Top U.S. pension funds aims join Bank of America suit
* Say they hope to be lead plaintiffs in class-action suit
LOS ANGELES/SAN FRANCISCO, March 23 The first
and third largest U.S. pension funds plan to lead a
class-action suit against Bank of America (BAC.N), accusing the
lender of mis-stating or omitting crucial information about the
financial health of acquired investment bank Merrill Lynch.
The California Public Employees' Retirement System
(CalPERS) and California State Teachers Retirement System
(CalSTRS) said on Monday they were trying to protect the
retirement security of their over 2 million members.
On Monday, they filed a joint motion to the District Court
of the Southern District of New York to be designated lead
plaintiff in class actions against Bank of America stemming
from its merger with Merrill Lynch.
Plaintiffs lawyer Coughlin Stoia filed the suit in
"Despite these challenging economic times, we can't give
corporations a pass on their obligations to shareholders," said
Jack Ehnes, CalSTRS chief executive officer.
"By moving to be appointed lead plaintiffs, we're acting to
supplement government enforcement of securities laws at a
critical time for our nation's economy. We've taken this step
to hold the board and its management responsible to their
In a joint statement, CalPERS and CalSTRS said shareholders
lacked complete information about the merger before they
approved the tie-up.
Anger has mounted against Bank of America, which agreed
last September to buy struggling Merrill at a 60 percent
premium after fewer than 48 hours of discussions. Investors
have accused the lender of overpaying, and failing to timely
disclose the extent of the target bank's losses once they had
(Reporting by Edwin Chan)