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Only three securities class actions were filed against European companies in U.S. courts in 2006, down from a peak of nine in 2004, according to a newly released survey by accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. But while European companies can breathe a little easier in the United States, there’s increasing unease at home about the emergence of European equivalents to the U.S.�style class action. “There’s no doubt that European corporations are wary,” says John Hardiman, a U.S. litigation partner with Sullivan & Cromwell in London.

Lately the portents have been ominous. First came the settlement of a massive shareholder action in the Netherlands. Now a U.S. plaintiffs firm has set up shop in London. Major U.S. and U.K. firms are getting up to speed with a fast-developing practice area.

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