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Appeal Court dismisses Sturgess claim over Greymouth

Appeal Court dismisses Sturgess claim over Greymouth Petroleum

By Jonathan Underhill

June 24 (BusinessDesk) - The Court of Appeal has turned down an attempt by Greymouth Petroleum minority shareholder John Sturgess to overthrow a High Court ruling on the sale of his shares.

In a judgment issued today, Justices Tony Randerson, Forrest Miller and Douglas White found for respondents Robert Dunphy and associates, and other shareholders and directors. In this case Sturgess was found to have pushed the envelope with a shareholders agreement that gave him and the majority shareholders rights of veto over the company.

Greymouth Petroleum chairman Mark Dunphy and fellow director Peter Masfen have been embroiled in a dispute with Sturgess since 2011. Today's judgment is interim pending costs and more importantly the fair market value of the company, which is being determined by an arbitrator. Neither side will concede until they see that valuation.

Sturgess was dumped as chief operating officer of the company and is no longer on the board so the value and sale of the shares is the final step in his exit. The arbitrator was appointed by the president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants because the estranged shareholders couldn't agree on a person.

Sturgess and related interests own 14 percent of Greymouth, while interests of executive chairman Mark Dunphy and director Peter Masfen, who together control 86 percent of the local oil and gas producer.

Dunphy and Masfen dismissed Sturgess as chief operating officer in February 2011 saying he failed to meet terms of the job in reporting to the board. Sturgess argued that the company should be wound up.


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