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Glencore seeks to exit U.S. aluminum price-fixing case


(Reuters) — Glencore P.L.C., one of the world's largest mining companies, has asked a U.S. judge to dismiss it as a defendant from nationwide antitrust litigation over the alleged manipulation of aluminum prices.

In a Monday night filing with the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, Glencore said it lacks minimal contacts with New York, Michigan and California, where the alleged violations took place, and does not even conduct any business in those states.

Glencore said it is solely a Jersey holding company with offices in Baar, Switzerland, and as a result has never bought or sold physical aluminum, London Metal Exchange warrants or LME aluminum futures, and never owned or operated warehouses.

Two Glencore units that operate warehouses, Pacorini Metals USA L.L.C. and Dutch-based Pacorini Metals Vlissingen B.V., are also defendants in the litigation and did not join Monday's filing.

Plaintiffs in the various cases include so-called direct purchaser plaintiffs, commercial end-user plaintiffs, consumer end-user plaintiffs, flashlight maker Mag Instrument Inc., and a unit of Belgium's Agfa Graphics N.V. that supplies the newspaper, commercial printing and graphics communications industries.

The plaintiffs generally accused JPMorgan Chase & Co., Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Glencore, their warehousing units, warehouse operator Metro International Trade Services L.L.C. and the LME of having conspired since May 2009 to drive up aluminum prices by reducing supply.

This alleged collusion caused delays, sometimes referred to as queues, of up to 16 months to fill orders, plaintiffs have said. Twenty-six price-fixing lawsuits were combined in December before U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest in Manhattan.

Christopher Lovell, a lawyer for many of the plaintiffs, said he plans to file papers opposing the motion to dismiss. "We believe we have personal jurisdiction" over Glencore, he said.

Walter Noss, a lawyer for Agfa and Mag, declined to comment.

Last week, Henry Bath & Son Ltd., a British affiliate of JPMorgan, also cited jurisdictional issues in seeking to dismiss claims brought against it.

The case is In re: Aluminum Warehousing Antitrust Litigation, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 13-md-02481.