SYDNEY, July 29 Australia's Bentham IMF Ltd
, which funds litigation, on Tuesday said it has filed
court proceedings seeking A$50 million ($47 million) from a
traffic forecaster on behalf of 30 investors who claim to have
suffered loss because of optimistic predictions.
Bentham IMF said the investors were among many to have
indirectly put money into a toll road based on data from
forecaster Arup Pty Ltd, which showed almost twice as many
vehicles would use the road than actually did.
The A$4.8 billion, 9 mile Airport Link in the Queensland
state capital Brisbane was built under a government contract by
BrisConnections Unit Trusts - a consortium of Macquarie
Group Ltd and Leighton Holdings Ltd companies.
BrisConnections hired Arup which forecast average daily use
would be 135,000 vehicles, local media reported.
But BrisConnections entered voluntary administration last
year, reporting Airport Link traffic of only 80,000 vehicles a
day during the first month of the road's 2012 opening before any
toll had been imposed.
"(Arup) made some forecasts in the (investment) prospectus
and the numbers obviously didn't eventuate. We say they ought to
have identified that those figures were not reliable," IMF
Director Clive Bowman told Reuters by telephone.
"Had reliable information been included in the traffic
forecasts, people wouldn't have subscribed and wouldn't have
A spokesman for Arup said the forecaster would defend
against the class action.
Arup provided forecasts "on the basis of stated and agreed
project risks, assumptions, limitations and methodologies, all
of which are set out very clearly in our reports and agreed with
our clients," the spokesman said.
"That would also apply to any work prepared for the Airport
BrisConnections listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in
2008 by selling stapled securities requiring payment in
instalments. Arup's forecasts featured in the sale prospectus.
A year after listing, around 70 percent of investors failed
to pay the second instalment because of concern the traffic
forecast was too high, local media reported.
The securities were issued at A$3 and were last traded at
A$0.40 in November 2012.
In a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange on
Tuesday, Bentham IMF said its lawyers filed proceedings at the
Federal Court of Australia.
A spokesman for BrisConnections' receiver PPB Advisory
declined comment. Macquarie and Leighton were not immediately
available for comment.
The lawsuit comes as Queensland prepares to sell some A$33
billion of power, port and rail assets to pay for new
infrastructure. The state has set an Aug. 6 deadline to receive
proposals from banks for advisory roles.
($1 = 1.0642 Australian Dollars)
(Reporting by Byron Kaye; Editing by Christopher Cushing)