opes client wins injunction against anz

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    A disgruntled client of collapsed stockbroker Opes Prime has won a court injunction temporarily stopping ANZ Banking Group Ltd, Opes Prime's major creditor, from selling shares the client had placed with Opes.

    Law firm Slater & Gordon Wednesday succeeded in obtaining a one-week injunction in the NSW Supreme Court against ANZ and the receiver, restricting the sale of about 32 million shares in Perth-based iron ore explorer Gindalbie Metals Ltd, which are the subject of dispute with Melewar Steel Ventures Ltd.

    Melewar is a substantial shareholder in Gindalbie, and the 32 million shares, which represent about 6.2 per cent of Gindalbie's stock, were subject to an equity financing contract with Opes Prime.

    Gindalbie said Wednesday that under Melewar's contract with Opes, the receiver believed it had the right to sell those shares.

    Gindalbie has been informed by the receiver that about 32 million Gindalbie shares, previously held by Melewar, were in the hands of stockbroking firms Goldman Sachs JBWere, Merrill Lynch and Dresdner, which had instructions from the receiver to sell the stock.

    Opes Prime, which specialised in the lending and borrowing of shares, was placed in the hands of receivers Chris Campbell and Sal Algeri of Deloitte Corporate Reorganisation Group last Thursday after trading "irregularities" were uncovered.

    Opes owes more than $1 billion to secured creditors, primarily ANZ and Merrill Lynch.

    ANZ, which is owed about $650 million, and Merrill Lynch secured their loans to Opes Prime against a portfolio of shares.

    They have been selling the shares to get their money back.

    Those shares were originally pledged by Opes clients in return for margin loans from Opes.

    Opes clients are seeking to stop ANZ from selling what they claim is still their stock.

    Clients have told Slater & Gordon they were unaware that Opes Prime could use shares, pledged as collateral, to secure loans with third parties.

    Slater & Gordon director Ken Fowlie said the NSW Supreme Court had injuncted ANZ from dealing with Melewar's shares for a week.

    "It is a significant development in circumstances where that was not the point that was reached in Melbourne Tuesday in a similar application," Mr Fowlie said.

    Tuesday, a group of Opes clients linked to CMG Group went to the Federal Court in Melbourne in a bid to stop ANZ and the receiver from selling shares.

    However, they failed to obtain a court injunction preventing the sale.

    The clients linked to CMG Group said they had entered into agreements with Opes Prime under the belief that they retained beneficial and economic ownership of the stock.

    Mr Fowlie said Slater & Gordon had received a steady stream of calls over the past few days from Opes clients concerned about their money.

    Meanwhile, the number of small companies listed on the Australian stock exchange with exposure to Opes continued to climb.

    Australian Institute of Property Management Ltd (APM) said about 10 million shares or about three per cent of the company were subject to equity finance contracts with Opes Prime.

    Online advertiser Ansearch Ltd said 35.2 million Ansearch shares, or about 6.3 per cent of the company's stock, previously controlled by Ansearch director Dean Jones were now beneficially owned and controlled by the financiers of Opes Prime.

    Uranium developer Bannerman Resources Ltd said director Nathan McMahon had margin lending arrangements with Opes under which 14.7 million shares representing 10.2 per cent of Bannerman's issued capital were pledged as collateral and held in ANZ Nominees accounts.

    Bannerman said the current status of the ownership and control of the securities was unclear at this time.

    Gaming systems provider eBet Ltd said about 56.2 million shares or 25.8 per cent of issued stock was subject to equity finance contracts with Opes Prime.

    Mobile and e-marketing firm ComTel Corporation Ltd said about 10.5 million of its share, or 7.9 per cent of its stock, had been affected by Opes Prime margin lending facilities.
 
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