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Wachovia: Risky investment strategy sinks union pension funds

For more than 50 years, Wachovia and its predecessors acted as investment manager for the Local 464A UFCW Union Funds, exercising investment discretion consistent with certain investment guidelines and fiduciary obligations. Until mid-2007, Wachovia managed the fixed income assets of the funds safely and conservatively, and their returns closely tracked the Lehman Aggregate Bond Index (now known as the Barclay’s Capital Aggregate Bond Index) to which the funds were benchmarked.

However, beginning in mid-2007 Wachovia significantly changed the investment strategy, causing the funds’ portfolio value to drop drastically below the benchmark. Specifically, Wachovia began to dramatically decrease the funds’ holdings in short-term, high-quality, low-risk debt instruments and materially increase their holdings in high-risk mortgage-backed securities and collateralized mortgage obligations.  We represented the funds’ trustees in alleging that, among other things, Wachovia breached its fiduciary duty by: failing to invest the assets in accordance with the funds’ conservative investment guidelines; failing to adequately monitor the funds’ fixed income investments; and failing to provide complete and accurate information to plaintiffs concerning the change in investment strategy. The matter was resolved privately between the parties.