Gough family feud worries US supplier

Last updated 05:00 02/07/2014
Antony Gough
COMPLEX MANAGEMENT STRUCTURE: Colourful property developer Anthony Gough co-owns Gough Holdings.

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Christchurch heavy machinery company Gough Holdings fears family feuding might "unsettle" its main supplier, giant American manufacturer Caterpillar.

Gough Holdings has held the celebrated Caterpillar dealership in New Zealand for 80 years.

However, publicity over conflict between two sides of the wealthy Christchurch family which owns Gough Holdings is earning Caterpillar displeasure.

A court judgment released on Monday says "Caterpillar representatives have expressed dissatisfaction with, among other things, disputes between members of the Gough family in connection with the business of Gough Group".

The court judgment said Gough Holdings' concern was "that the Caterpillar dealership may be put at greater risk as a result of the proceedings and any attendant publicity".

Caterpillar Inc is the world's largest manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, natural gas and diesel engines, and industrial gas turbines.

Asked how safe the Caterpillar dealership was, Gough Holdings chairman Keith Taylor said yesterday "I can't comment on that on either. That is a Caterpillar question.

"We believe we are doing a very good job representing them here in New Zealand. We are trading well for Caterpillar, so I guess that's the main thing," Taylor said.

"But obviously there's some thought we would rather these disputes weren't going on with the risk that might unsettle people."

Taylor defended the company's failed attempt to stifle publicity on the latest round of court skirmishes between the two sides of the Gough family.

He said the suppression sought for a particular judgment was only temporary until a decision from a related court hearing in August.

Gough Holdings wanted suppression of a High Court judgment over whether a family member could continue to be a director if the Head Trust was wound up.

The High Court ruled the company's constitution did not allow a family member to be a director if the Head Trust no longer existed, unless all shareholders agreed.

The Head Trust appoints and removes the company's directors.

The court case was taken by the O T Gough side of the family which includes property developer Anthony Gough and brothers Tracy and Harcourt.

It was a challenge to Ben Gough, who is deputy chairman of the company, controlling just over half of the company's shares, and who leads the B T Gough side of the family.

Jamie Gough from the O T Gough side is also a director.

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Ben Gough declined to comment yesterday on whether he would appeal. He said he viewed the judgments as a private matter and Gough Holdings was a private company.

Whether the Head Trust will be wound up is to be decided at another hearing in Auckland in August.

- The Press

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