(Bloomberg) -- Cantor Fitzgerald LP Chief Executive Officer Howard Lutnick strongly denied using threats and intimidation to push through the $875 million sale of a Cantor-owned mortgage lender to another company he controlled.
“No way,” the billionaire said Thursday in Delaware Chancery Court when asked if he acted inappropriately in getting directors at brokerage BGC Partners Inc., where Lutnick was also chairman, to approve its 2017 acquisition of Berkeley Point Financial LLC from a Cantor subsidiary.
Lutnick took the stand in a suit by pension funds that invested in BGC and who claim he engineered the Berkeley deal to “misappropriate value” from shareholders and line his own pockets. They are suing him and other directors on behalf of all investors, with any recovery going back to BGC.
The funds say Lutnick, who had a $1 billion stake in Berkeley, worked behind the scenes to get pliant BGC directors on a special committee that negotiated the deal with Cantor. To get the deal done, the billionaire threw his weight around, demanding his BGC board colleagues increase their offer for Berkeley and threatening to remove objectors from the group, the investors claim.
Read More: BGC Directors Must Face Lawsuit Over Purchase of Cantor Unit Lutnick said he was involved in discussions but rejected accusations of improper behavior under questioning by his lawyer on Thursday. He said he “didn’t know” whether he had the power to oust members of the BGC special committee. He also denied having social ties to its members, saying he never celebrated birthdays, anniversaries or holidays with any of them.
“They are professional friends,” Lutnick said. His testimony continues tomorrow.
New York-based BGC folded Berkeley, which focuses its lending on commercial and multi-family projects tied to government-sponsored programs, into its Newmark real-estate unit. The 14,000-employee firm is one of the world’s largest commercial real estate services companies, according to its website.
The case is In re BGC Partners Inc. Derivative Litigation, No. 2018-0722, Delaware Chancery Court (Wilmington).
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