Lyft threatens litigation towards Morgan Stanley for allegedly supporting short-selling

Lyft has threatened litigation towards Morgan Stanley, accusing the agency of supporting short-selling for traders who’re topic to lock-up agreements.

In a letter despatched to Morgan Stanley on April 2, Lyft questioned the agency about its alleged function in serving to market sure merchandise that may assist pre-IPO traders wager towards the inventory.

CNBC reviewed a duplicate of this letter, which was signed by Lyft’s counsel Peter Stris of the regulation agency Stris & Maher. Lyft declined to remark.

The letter was prompted by reporting within the New York Publish, which stated Morgan Stanley had been promoting a brief product to pre-IPO traders and cited three sources near the scenario.

Lyft requested Morgan Stanley to go on file saying that they didn’t create such a product, and that they’d engaged within the correct due diligence in advertising and marketing such a product.

The letter, which copied Lyft’s lead underwriters JP Morgan and Credit score Suisse, additionally asks that if Morgan Stanley did have interaction in such exercise that they cease instantly and switch over a listing of shareholders who participated.

Whereas the letter requested that Morgan Stanley reply by the tip of the day on April 2, two supply near the matter stated that as of late Friday, the agency had but to take action formally. Each individuals requested for anonymity discussing non-public particulars involving the dispute.

Nevertheless, a Morgan Stanley spokesperson supplied a press release to CNBC, saying that the agency “didn’t market or execute, instantly or not directly, a sale, brief sale, hedge, swap or switch of threat or worth related to Lyft inventory for any Lyft shareholder recognized by the corporate or in any other case recognized to us to be the topic of a Lyft lock-up settlement.”

The Data first reported that Lyft and its IPO syndicate had despatched a letter to Morgan Stanley over its purported function in creating particular devices for pre-IPO traders to brief.

Within the letter, Lyft stated that it has the power to take authorized motion towards Morgan Stanley and requested that the agency flip over related paperwork prematurely of potential litigation.

Lyft’s counsel believes that Morgan Stanley may very well be discovered to have engaged in tortious interference with the lock-up agreements if it have been true that the agency actively sought to avoid them.

Lyft’s shares plummeted as a lot as 12% on their second day of buying and selling, following their IPO debut on March 29. Some merchants available in the market speculated that the drop was partly as a result of early demand for brief promoting the shares. The inventory rebounded over the course of the week.

“Our agency’s exercise has been within the regular course of market-making, and any suggestion that Morgan Stanley has engaged in an effort to use ‘brief strain’ to Lyft is fake,” the spokesperson for Morgan Stanley stated.

Morgan Stanley’s brief gross sales have been lower than 1.three% of the overall quantity of Lyft, in line with an individual aware of Morgan Stanley’s operations.

The one largest short-trade executed on behalf of a shopper was 425,000 shares, stated the individual, who requested to not be named discussing non-public particulars concerning the agency’s buying and selling exercise.

The Monetary Business Regulatory Authority, which is the self-regulatory group that patrols the banking business, has already gotten engaged on the matter, one individual with data of the matter stated.

This may increasingly additionally fall below the area of the Securities and Alternate Fee, though CNBC was unable to study whether or not the SEC has began any discussions at the moment.

The Data reported earlier that Finra has gotten concerned within the matter.

The dispute additionally comes as a protracted pipeline of tech firms are ready to make their very own debuts this 12 months. Lyft’s rival Uber is about to go public within the coming months.

Morgan Stanley had received the coveted function of underwriting Uber’s IPO. The bankers who’re managing that deal have been additionally copied in on the letter, which is notable as a result of the creation of economic merchandise for brief promoting can be sometimes achieved in one other division on the agency — not inside funding banking.

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