Mackwoods battle takes new turn with Sri Lanka’s Agalawatte Plantations sale
ECONOMYNEXT – A battle among shareholders of privately held Mackwoods group took a new turn with the sale of a controlling stake in Agalawatte Plantations Plc, to Sri Lanka’s Browns group.
Browns said in a stock exchange filing that it bought 60 a percent stake of APL made up of 15.2 million from Mackwoods Plantations (Pvt) Ltd, for 20 rupees a share on July 14.
The Mackwoods group has been embroiled in litigation after some members of the controlling Nonis family went to court alleging that Chairman Chris Nonis was oppressing them and mis-managing the group, whose ultimate holding company was Mackwoods Securities (Pvt) Ltd.
Agalawatte Plantations said in a statement that the "transaction was formally authorised and effected by the shareholders of Mackwoods Plantations (Pvt) Ltd."
Nirmalie Samaratunga, a director of Mackwoods Plantations (Pvt) Ltd, said Thursday that she had not been given notice of any board meeting to approve the share sale and she was consulting legal opinion.
There had been a series of cases involving the group filed by opposing factions.
Earlier in the month, some shareholders won a court order to hold an extraordinary general meeting of Mackwoods Securities (Pvt) Ltd in a bid to appoint three directors to represent their interests.
The shareholders alleged that Chris Nonis was siphoning off money in the name of conducting international promotions through a company called APL Teas, which was owned by him and one sister and was actually not a subsidiary of Agalawatte Plantions which was known as APL.
The petitioner told court that another company called Taprospa Resorts (Pvt) Ltd, which had interests in leisure, was a 100 percent owned unit of Agalawatte Plantations until 2011.
The petition alleged that Taprospa Resorts (Pvt) Ltd, had later become a 60 percent owned unit of a company called Taprospa Holdings Ltd which was 99 percent owned by Chris Nonis and it had happened without the knowledge of the board.
Nonis denying the allegations said in statement that there were attempts to strip assets of the group by hostile corporate raiders who were making "wild and baseless allegations and are engaged in a vicious smear campaign against the Company and its Chairman."