CENTRO Properties is holding discussions with its auditors, PricewaterhouseCoopers, as to whether PwC can be involved in the mediation process regarding the $1 billion-plus class action against the retail landlord, The Sydney Morning Herald reported. More than "10,000 disgruntled Centro investors have now joined two class actions", which cover trading between April and February last year. The Federal Court in Melbourne gave lawyers from Slater & Gordon, representing one of the groups suing Centro, an extension of time "after more than 5000 disgruntled investors joined the class action". The same number of investors have joined with the other legal firm taking class action, Maurice Blackburn. Centro was the first listed trust to fall victim to the global financial crisis in late December 2007. At the time the shares were close to $6; they closed yesterday unchanged at 6.5c. Justice Ryan said the parties had until May 22 to continue the mediation process, then he will decide whether more time is needed. But in court, Centro Properties' lawyers, Freehills, said they, too, needed more time as Centro was now deciding whether to take action against PwC.
SLATER & Gordon reported in December that the Centro class actions would go straight to mediation. The agreement to mediate followed the announcement by Centro Retail chairman Paul Cooper that the retail giant was open to discussions to explore a resolution of the actions. Slater & Gordon's head of class actions, James Higgins, said the mediation is a "positive development in the battle for Centro shareholders to recover the substantial losses they have suffered".