Freeport-McMoRan agrees to pay $137.5M to end lawsuits over $9B acquisitions of two companies

MarketsAssociated Press

Freeport-McMoRan on Thursday agreed to pay $137.5 million to settle lawsuits surrounding its 2013 acquisition of two companies at a price tag of $9 billion.

A series of lawsuits alleged that the mining company overpaid for McMoran Exploration and Plains Exploration & Production, and that the management of Plains Exploration didn't get the best possible price on the sale and didn't disclose enough information to shareholders. A lawsuit intended to block the merger was denied.

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Freeport-McMoRan is not acknowledging any wrongdoing or improper behavior and that it wanted to resolve the lawsuits. The payments will be covered by insurance.

McMoran Exploration was an affiliate of Freeport-McMoran, while Plains Exploration was a competitor that had veto power over a sale of that company. Freeport-McMoRan agreed to buy the companies in December 2012 for a total of $9 billion, or about $19 billion including debt. The deal made Freeport-McMoRan, then a copper and gold mining company, into a natural resources conglomerate with assets ranging from oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico to a huge copper mine in Indonesia.

The agreement Thursday was disclosed in a filing with the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware, and the court still needs to approve the settlement.

The law firm Labaton Sucharow, which represents one of the lead plaintiffs in the case, said Freeport-McMoRan will also make corporate governance reforms as part of the settlement.

The filing says the shareholders may also sue Credit Suisse, which advised Freeport-McMoRan on the deal.

Shares of Freeport-McMoRan gained one cent to $18.75 in afternoon trading.