Legal action stopped

CATHIE BELL
Last updated 16:03 30/01/2014

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Marlborough Lines has abandoned further legal action against a Bay of Plenty community power trust.

However, it still refuses to say how much legal action against the Eastern Bay Energy Trust has cost it, saying it is commercially sensitivity.

Marlborough Lines, which owns 13 per cent of Whakatane-based lines company Horizon, funded Bay of Plenty iwi Ngati Rangitihi to take legal action against lthe energy trust, which owns 77 per cent of Horizon. The court action was about the legality of the trust increasing its ownership of Horizon from 25 per cent to 77 per cent.

Both the High Court and the Appeal Court ruled that the energy trust could keep its 77 per cent shareholding in Horizon.

Taking the case further to the Supreme Court was a possibility, but the beneficiaries of the iwi had forced their tribal leadership to not take the case further, and Marlborough Lines chairman David Dew said there would be no further legal action.

Mr Dew, a Blenheim lawyer and former Marlborough District Councillor, said the company had sought advice on what to do next and based on that advice, had decided not to take the case further.

"The nature of what you can appeal to the Supreme Court, it is actually quite limited."

He declined to say how much court action had cost to date, saying it was a private matter.

"We don't have to discuss any of the details and probably won't."

Some things were to happen yet, and he did not want to disclose the company's hand by saying how much legal action had cost.

Asked to clarify how future options could relate to the cost of legal action, Mr Dew said it was possible Marlborough Lines might sell its shareholding in Horizon and revealing the cost of legal action might give potential buyers an advantage.

"There is a range of possibilities here. One is that the trust there may want to purchase our shares at a realistic prices. How we determine that price, we don't want to discuss.

"We see the price the company is prepared to accept for the share and the cost of legal action as being related - the price would cover what we'd paid for them, what they've cost so far, and a profit. I don't want to give anyone a breakdown of how we might calculate something."

People had shown an interest in buying the Horizon shareholding, he said.

"It might be other parties that buy them, not the people in Whakatane."

One of the beneficiaries of the Whakatane-based iwi trust that stopped Ngati Rangitihi taking further legal action, Donna Semmens, said iwi members were "absolutely pleased" there would be no more legal action.

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- The Marlborough Express

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