Ameriprise cites progress in talks with plaintiffs

* Ameriprise says talks making progress

* Company is hopeful it will resolve the latter

* Statement breaks a week of silence from firm

By Joseph A. Giannone

NEW YORK, March 25 (Reuters) – Ameriprise Financial Inc
(AMP.N: Quote, Profile, Research) on Friday said negotiations with lawyers pursuing $400
million of investor-loss claims against its independent
brokerage unit, Securities America, made “substantial progress”
this week.

In a brief statement posted only to its website,
Minneapolis-based Ameriprise said that it and representatives
for dozens of Securities America clients had “committed to a
process” that will, the company hopes, result “in a full and
final resolution of the matters.”

Ameriprise officials declined further comment.

Dan Girard, a plaintiffs’ lawyer who took part in the two
days of mediation this Thursday and Friday with Ameriprise,
declined to comment. Other lawyers representing claimants could
not be reached immediately for comment.

The statement shows Ameriprise has not left the table,
which means there is still a chance the financial services
giant may dig into its own pockets to pay customers seeking
damages after losing money on private placement issued by
Medical Capital and Provident Royalties.

Securities America is the sixth-largest independent
brokerage with a network of 1,800 self-employed advisers across
the United States, was the largest seller of these securities
— and it has a very rich parent company.

Throughout the past two years, Securities America has
argued it would go bankrupt if it were forced to make every
investor whole. It ended 2010 with $9 million of net capital
and $90 million in total shareholder equity.

Medical Capital and Provident had raised money through a
series of high-yielding private placements, but the Securities
and Exchange Commission in 2009 said the companies were in fact
defrauding investors.

Ameriprise has the option of walking away from its
subsidiary, arguably less costly than paying hundreds of
million in legal claims. A Dallas Federal Court judge last
Friday rejected a $21 million class-action settlement, which
led to the follow-up negotiations this week.
(Reporting by Joseph A. Giannone; Editing by Gary Hill)

Ameriprise cites progress in talks with plaintiffs