Bristol-Myers Squibb yesterday said that it had reached an agreement to settle shareholder lawsuits brought against the company following accusations of accounting misdemeanors.

Under the terms of the settlement, B-MS says it has “agreed to adopt certain governance enhancements” but has declined to accept any wrongdoing. The final settlement hearing is scheduled for mid-May in a US court.

Last year, B-MS revealed a $300 million charge to settle a class action lawsuit accusing it of using dubious means to artificially inflate its sales and profits [[02/08/04c]]. This penalty was swiftly followed by a $150 million dollar-fine - the largest sum ever levied by the US Securities and Exchange Commission - for using incentives to entice wholesalers into buying large amounts of the company’s products, which artificially boosted earnings through 1999 to 2001 to the tune of $2.5 billion [[12/07/02a]], [[05/08/04a]].

But B-MS is not out of the woods yet, and still faces a number of other shareholder lawsuits and government investigations. Last year, it boosted its litigation reserves by $400 million to cover itself in the face of such accusations [[29/06/04a]].