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Terra Firma v Citigroup: Summing up

By | Published on Thursday 4 November 2010

So, Terra Firma v Citigroup is now in its final stages, with the jury hearing the case due to deliberate on the evidence that has been presented before them. Did US bank Citigroup mislead London-based equity firm Terra Firma into bidding too soon and too high for flagging music company EMI, because it had so much to gain from the takeover going ahead? Or did Citigroup act honestly, and is now only subject to a lawsuit because Terra Firma boss Gary ‘The Guy’ Hands is pissed off that his big music acquisition has gone so horribly, horribly wrong?

Legal reps for both sides summed up their arguments yesterday. For Terra Firma, David Boies again stressed that had Citigroup’s David ‘The Worm’ Wormsley not called Gary at the last minute and lied about the intents of a rival bidder, Terra Firma would not have rushed into making an over the odds offer for EMI. “That call was so important”, he told the jury. “In the absence of that, Terra Firma would not have put in a bid”.

For Citigroup, Ted Wells again told the jury that this case was all about a bitter Gary Hands looking for someone to blame for his bad decision. According to the Evening Standard, he said: “We’re in this courtroom because Guy Hands, back in 2007, made a bad business decision. He thought he could turn this company around where nobody else could. The problem with turning this company around is that nobody buys records. Nobody’s figured out how to make money with these record companies because everything’s being downloaded. He’s lost hundreds of millions of dollars. He’s made a mistake. Why doesn’t he take responsibility for the fact he made a mistake?”

Actually, Wells’ description of why EMI is flagging isn’t really right, but will the jury buy his theory as to why his client is being sued by the music major’s owners? A verdict is now very close. If Terra Firma lose, many reckon they’ll bail on EMI, putting the future of the company back into full on jeopardy.