© Reuters. First Solar to pay $350 million to end shareholder lawsuit, avert trial

(Reuters) – First Solar Inc (O:) said on Monday it agreed to pay $350 million to settle a long-running shareholder lawsuit accusing the solar panel maker of inflating its stock price by concealing design defects and reporting misleading financials over nearly four years.

The class-action settlement requires approval by U.S. District Judge David Campbell in Phoenix, and averts a scheduled Jan. 7 trial, court records show.

First Solar said it did not admit liability or wrongdoing in agreeing to settle, and expects the settlement to be reflected in results for its fiscal year ending Dec. 31, 2019.

Shareholders sued over six price declines in First Solar’s stock from April 2008 to February 2012, a period in which the Tempe, Arizona-based company’s stock price fell roughly 89%.

First Solar said related lawsuits by plaintiffs that chose to sue on their own rather than join the class action, and by plaintiffs suing company officials in a so-called derivative lawsuit, remain pending.

The shareholders were led by two UK pension funds, Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme and British Coal Staff Superannuation Scheme. Their lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In early trading, First Solar shares fell $1.41, or 2.5%, to $55.61.

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2020-01-06