17/02/2020 - 15:53

$70m deal blocks further claims, court told

17/02/2020 - 15:53

Bookmark

Save articles for future reference.

A 2008 agreement between Julian Wright’s two children and family company Wright Prospecting precluded further claims, a Supreme Court trial has been told.

Julian Wright at his winery in 2013.

A 2008 agreement between Julian Wright’s two children and family company Wright Prospecting precluded further claims, a Supreme Court trial has been told.

Counsel for Wright Prospecting has mapped out a detailed defence against claims by Mr Wright that he was misled by his siblings, prior to selling his stake in the family company for $6.8 million in 1987.

Barrister Kristina Stern has told the court that a $70 million agreement reached by Natalie and Timothy Wright precluded further claims.

That’s because the children successfully argued that an option over Mr Wright’s shares had been exercised and belonged to the estate of their late grandfather Peter Wright.

On this basis, they claimed 11 per cent (one third of one-third) of the issued capital of Wright Prospecting and a share of the dividends and profits accruing to those shares since 1987.

Their final payout of $70 million was believed to have been a negotiated settlement.

Mr Wright is claiming he was defrauded when he sold his share of the family company to his sister Angela Bennett and his brother Michael Wright.

Mrs Bennett and the family of the late Michael Wright have become some of Australia’s wealthiest people, after the surge in iron ore prices led to a dramatic increase in their royalty income.

In the year to June 2019, their jointly owned company paid a $172 million dividend.

The defence has argued that Mrs Bennett and Michael Wright did not breach their fiduciary duty as directors of Wright Prospecting.

Their fiduciary duty was to the company, not to a fellow director such as their brother.

The defence has also argued that the matters raised by Julian Wright were not material to his decision to sell.

It has asserted that a number of matters were weighing on Julian Wright’s mind, including his own financial circumstances and his relationship with his siblings.

Drawing on expert evidence, the defence said Julian Wright valued Wright Prospecting at the time of his sale at between $75 million and $120 million but opted to take $6.8 million for his share.

Two independent experts, who have had access to all the information Julian Wright says he was unable to access, valued the business at less than $120 million.

The case comemnced last week with Julian Wright's counsel Pat Zappia taking nearly four days to complete his openig address.

The trial is expected to last at least one month.

Wright Prospecting was established by the late Peter Wright, who was Lang Hancock’s business partner. They had a pioneering role in the Pilbara iron ore industry.

 

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

Subscription Options