Attorney General Mike Hatch said Wednesday he won’t participate directly in a shareholder lawsuit against against UnitedHealth Group Inc. so he can start his own investigation of the company.
Hatch is switching the state’s participation to a friend of the court, instead of a direct party to the lawsuit, thereby preserving his right to subpoena documents from the Minnetonka-based health insurer.
Shareholders are suing over the timing of stock options to executives.
The attorney general said he wants to probe compensation given to the company’s board of directors and how that may have influenced their oversight of executive compensation.
“If you go on a board and you’re receiving $5 million, how can you be in a position to really be prudent with regard to the type of compensation you’re going to be giving to the executives?” Hatch said after a meeting of the State Board of Investment.
The state owns approximately 2.6 million shares of UnitedHealth, with a market value of roughly $120 million, according to the State Board of Investment.
Hatch planned to go to court to make sure the state can still join the shareholder lawsuit later.
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