NEW YORK – The new General Motors could be undone by a lawsuit that pits general creditors against hedge funds including Elliott Management and Fortress Investment over $3 billion, the automaker said in a lawsuit that went to trial Tuesday.
A trust for creditors of the old, bankrupt part of the automaker now known as Motors Liquidation sued the hedge funds in Manhattan bankruptcy court in March, alleging that while GM was preparing its bankruptcy filing on June 1, 2009, four hedge funds, which held notes in a Canadian unit of GM, saw an eleventh-hour opportunity for profit and pounced.
The trust seeks to have a $2.67 billion claim and a $367 million payment negotiated for holders of notes in GMs Nova Scotia unit disallowed or reduced, saying the hedge funds seek more than three times what General Motors actually owed them. The amounts, agreed to as part of a settlement known as the Lock-Up Agreement, resolved a dispute the hedge funds had brought over an inter-company claim GMs Nova Scotia Finance unit had against GM Canada.
General Motors, the currently operating automaker which split off from the bankrupt unit through a purchase of its assets July 10, said the trusts objections threaten to disturb the sale that saved the U.S. automaker, allowing it to prosper.
The company said that if the lawsuit undoes the Lock-Up Agreement, it could spawn new lawsuits, and create a chaotic situation for GM Canada, as well as all creditors, who are being repaid through warrants to buy stock in the new company.
The trial before U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Gerber will partly revolve around whether the Lock-Up Agreement was finalized before GMs 7:57 a.m. bankruptcy petition.
The trust said that because the agreement wasnt completed until after General Motors actually filed for bankruptcy protection, it requires bankruptcy court approval, which was never obtained.
The trial began Tuesday with no opening arguments.