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Unilever’s war drags on


Jonathan Sumption

It was infamously said following the outbreak of World War I that it would all be over by Christmas. It soon became apparent that would not be the case. So it is likely to prove with UK household products group Unilever's High Court action against Merrill Lynch Investment Managers.

Seven weeks into the case, Mr Justice Coleman had heard evidence from the protagonists but the supporting cast of the expert witnesses were still waiting in the wings. The judge is likely to sit right up until the holiday period and is then expected to take a couple of months to consider his decision before delivering it to a highly expectant fund management industry.

Unilever wants £130 million in damages from its former fund manager, then known as Mercury Asset Management, for underperforming on a £1 billion portfolio during 1997 and early 1998.

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